Picture: Jason Villanueva from Pexels

Cape Town - Coffee shop franchise vida e caffè has apologised for a poster put up at its Newlands store stating that it was an "Independent Media Free Zone”.

“I apologise because it has caused a lot of unhappiness," franchise manager Justin Fenn said on Monday.

A picture of one of the posters became a talking point on social media over the weekend, with some calling on a boycott of the franchise.

The poster reads: “Olà! This is an Independent Media Free Zone - No Cape Times, Argus or Weekend Argus." It also includes a picture of  Independent Media Chairperson Dr Iqbal Survé with the words: “Sorry for the inconvenience. #NoPassionNoPoint”

Fenn said: "We had many customers coming to us asking us why we stock these newspapers and then essentially we stopped our subscriptions with them and then we decided to take down the poster because we realised it was a mistake." 

vida e caffè CEO Darren Levy told the Cape Argus on Monday that he had had the poster removed as soon as it was brought to his attention last week.

The personal views expressed in the photo are not in any way held or endorsed by the brand and the store owner has expressed sincere remorse for the incident, Levy said.

“Whilst vida e caffè supports the freedom of individuals or a community to articulate their opinions or ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship or legal sanction, in doing so, it should not cause offence to any of our customers. 

“Management views this incident in a very serious light and has a zero-tolerance policy in place against publishing content that is not endorsed by the brand. We engaged with the franchise owner directly who understands how the statement could have caused offence and who removed it as soon as it was brought to my attention last week," Levy said.

Independent Media said that while they welcomed the statement from vida e caffe "we emphasise that South Africans have the right to choose what they read, see or hear without being prevented from doing so as a result of prejudice and racial bias". 

On Monday Dr Survé said: "All South Africans must defend the right to media freedom and censorship. Independent Media stands for the truth and this is what sometimes causes discomfort among those in authority and power and who seek to impose media censorship and a singular narrative. 

"People who love our constitution and who respect media freedom should stand up and condemn such attempts at media censorship."

Cape Argus