Offending product to be replaced by Clicks, taken off shelves at other retailers for 10 days
A MEETING convened to resolve the racial storm sparked by controversial Clicks haircare products advertising, on Thursday agreed that the material was indeed racist and offensive.
The advert posted on Clicks online platform for TRESemmé shampoo depicted black women's hair as being “frizzy and dull” or “dry and damaged” while that of white women was “fine and flat” or “normal”.
Following a protest by the EFF which forced Clicks to close hundreds of stores countrywide since Monday, the party leadership held a meeting yesterday with Unilever representing TRESemmé SA and Clicks led by chief executive Vikesh Ramsunder.
Ramsunder on Monday wrote an open letter on Monday, apologising for the hurt and anger ignited by the advert and said Clicks had suspended officials who allowed it to be published.
However, Unilever has refused to reveal the names of the people responsible for the advert, although it did confirm the director involved in the campaign had since left the company and the country.
While Clicks will no longer stock TRESemmé but replace it with local brands, the parties agreed that TRESemmé would withdraw all its products from all retail stores for a period of10 days as a demonstration of remorse.
In addition, Unilever will donate 10 000 sanitary pads and sanitisers to informal settlements identified by the EFF.
For its part Clicks also agreed to donate 50 000 sanitary pads and an additional 50 000 sanitisers. Furthermore, it will award scholarships to five students to pursue their studies for a pharmaceutical qualification.
The EFF has insisted that the students be black, from rural areas, female, and orphaned by HIV and Aids.
Following the meeting, the EFF called off protest action at Clicks stores to allow the retailer to conduct its business unhindered.
Yesterday, only a few Clicks stores in Tshwane had resumed operations while many others, including Menlyn Park, Silverton, CBD and Hatfield Square remained closed.
It was clear that the shelves had indeed been cleared of the offending product.
The Clicks store in Centurion, however, was opened for business yesterday, with heavily armed private security personnel keeping watch.
Meanwhile, the EFF said it would work with law enforcement agencies to bring those responsible for acts of vandalism at some Clicks stores to book. The Malema-led protest was supposed to be peaceful.
By Wednesday, Police Minister Bheki Cele said at least 15 people were arrested during the protest. Cele said that while the right to protest was protected in South Africa, police could not allow for property to be damaged.
“The genesis of this advert is glaring racism that is shown by this business and we must collectively condemn it. The demonstration of such blatant disregard and humiliation of African people can't go unabated," Cele said.
However, he said police must deal decisively with those who choose to break the law. “I'm encouraged that officers are making arrests and urge them to continue to ensure the protection and safety of customers and staff members in the affected areas.”