Durban Chamber of Commerce condemns violent protests at Clicks stores
Durban - The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry has strongly condemned the vandalisation of property and acts of intimidation against retail giant, Clicks, following protests at a number of stores across the country on Monday.
Groups of Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) members and supporters staged protests following an advert on the Clicks website last week.
"Property has been damaged, staff lives have been put at risk and, no doubt, financial losses have been incurred as a result of the violence. Most importantly, patients who depend on Clicks to fill their medication prescriptions have also been compromised at the affected sites," said Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO, Palesa Phili.
She said the knock-on effect of such actions were not only negative for the company but for the South African economy as a whole.
"It is disturbing to note video footage of law enforcement officers seemingly not taking action on those vandalising property and we urgently call on the South African Police Service and Metro Police officials to look into this," Phili said.
She explained that South Africans and South African businesses depended on law enforcement to protect property and lives, to contain the situation and to bring the violence to a stop.
"We additionally call on the law to take swift and decisive action against any person criminally inciting the public to violent action. Further inflammatory language has the potential to inflict more damage on Clicks as well as its neighbouring businesses and shopping centres, thereby threatening job security for thousands of South Africans. The Durban Chamber does not wish to see any jobs being lost as a result of vandalism as our country is already haemorrhaging economically," she said.
Phili said at the same time, they were disappointed in the marketing materials that were issued by Tresemme.
"There is, quite simply, no place for racially inflammatory messages and images that serve to add social stress to a fragile environment in which South Africans are already wrestling with the ongoing effects of Covid-19 and load shedding. Given the current economic challenges, social cohesion is imperative, and social partners, including corporates, need to pull together to avoid further economic losses and to build national morale. This marketing campaign has achieved the exact opposite," she said.
Meanwhile, Clicks said at least 445 stores around the country were closed.
In a statement issued on Monday evening, Clicks said protest action was reported at aleast 452 stores.
"Clicks strongly condemns violence of any kind, intimidation of staff and its customers and the vandalism of its stores. All incidents of criminal behaviour are being reported to the authorities. Clicks is working with SAPS to ensure the safety of staff, customers and members of the public," the statement read.
It continued: "Clicks is unable to estimate the total damage to stores given the ongoing protest action. Clicks provides a much-needed healthcare service to South Africans and will continue to trade. Clicks has taken full accountability and apologised unreservedly for the advertisement published on its website and is committed to effecting real change across the business. Clicks continues to monitor the situation."