Woolies: Hooligans nabbed in Jhb, Cape Town

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Police were called in by an array of shopping centre managements, security companies and members of the public who felt unsafe or intimidated and, in at least one instance, Woolworths itself last Saturday as the SA arm of the US NGO, Boycott, Divest & Sanction (Israel) continued on their monthly protests to disrupt trade in 40 random Woolies stores every month-end Saturday. But they stayed away from the pig's head...
by ANT KATZ | Oct 29, 2014

Police attended scenes in Benoni on the East Rand, at Woolworths Blue Route Mall in Cape Town where 13 activists were detained, and at Johannesburg’s upmarket Killarney Mall where, says BDS-SA, “activists had carried out the successful ‘die-in’ flashmob” - where they simply lay down in all the aisles and obstructed customer movement. Media reports referred to the action as a “lie-in”.

SABC NEWS said that 57 members of BDS and ANCYL were arrested at Killarney, taken to the Hillbrow police station and would appear in court on Monday. In the end, the demonstrators were released without being charged.

In a media statement on the Killarney incident this week, BDS claimed that “Woolworths has confirmed that it called the police and claims the activists were intimidating shoppers”. A spokesman for Woolworths’ corporate press office told Jewish Report on Wednesday, however, that this was not true and that the Killarney store had not called in the police.

The group was charged with public disturbance, Constable Thabo Malatji told the media. “They went to Woolies and started disturbing customers inside the shop,” he said.

ENCA News was at the scene and spoke to some of the many irritated shoppers. "I think it’s pathetic - it should be freedom of choice. Each person should be able to decide for themselves if they want to go and shop there or not," one shopper told them. "Hardly any Muslims in this protest,” said another, “In my opinion this protest is being used for a pro-Islamic agenda."

The halaal pig incident

Meanwhile, BDS-SA were quick to distance themselves last Friday after an incident in which members of the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) Western Cape branch placed a pig’s head on a Woolworths shelf and an ANC branch tweeted out pictures of the incident.

Shabbos Project 2014 YeshivaRIGHT: Cosas, silly students that they are, decided to put a pig's head in the halaal section of Woolies Sea Point last week and ANC branches just as naively tweeted them out. BDS ran for cover and the SAJBD today laid a hate speech charge with the HRC

“BDS is not involved or implicated at all,” BDS’ Sumaya Omar told the media. No surprise in that as most BDS directors and senior managers are Muslim and the students had accidentally put the pig’s head in the halaal meat counter! Read more about this on - see our LATEST Tab.

Woolworths has a “SOURCING FROM THE MIDDLE EAST” statement on its website which, in part, says:  “We know that the current conflict in the Middle East has affected many of our customers and our employees. We have heard many views expressed via our social media channels, e-mails and phone calls.” The company says that it does not source products from the disputed territories.

Woolies: What have we done?

“We have no political affiliations and respect our customers’ right to make individual purchasing choices, which is why we clearly label every product’s country of origin. We fully comply with government guidelines on product from Israel. Less than 0,1 per cent of our food is sourced from Israel,” says the company.

BDS-SA’s protest organiser for the Killarney incident, Tasneem Essop, contended that the protest was completely peaceful. Videos and pictures in (mainly Israeli) media, however, show the case to be anything but peaceful and customers and staff being harassed.

Woolworths officials have expressed puzzlement over being targeted by BDS, asserting that “more than 95 per cent of our food is sourced locally [and] the government continues to authorise trade with Israel”.

BDS’ Essop said some of those arrested were minors. “It is completely ridiculous and it goes against the values we wish to uphold,” she said.

Woolworths, on the other hand, say when it and its landlords become aware that a store is being targeted, it has no choice but to contact the local authorities if they feel “the safety of our customers and employees is threatened”, Woolworths said in a statement. “The police monitored the protests (on Saturday) and took action when they felt protesters violated the law. Woolworths did not arrest any protesters, nor lay any charges.”

Watch for more action from Woolies this week - they threatened to take legal action last month.


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