A total of 57 people who had protested in a Woolworths store in Killarney Mall were arrested on Saturday, Johannesburg police said. The group was charged with public disturbance, said Constable Thabo Malatji.
“They went to Woolies and started disturbing customers inside the shop,” said Malatji.
The protests are linked to continued calls to boycott Woolworths as it continued to trade with Israel following the deadly war in Gaza. Tasneem Essop from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, who organised the protest, said some of those arrested were minors.
“It is completely ridiculous and it goes against the values we wish to uphold,” said Essop.
She said the protest was completely peaceful and demonstrators had simply walked into the shop and lay on the ground with their placards. Essop explained that the activists were not arrested inside Woolworths but were already outside of the mall doors when they were approached by police.
Woolworths said the safety of its customers and employees was its “highest priority”.
“We have no choice but to contact the local authorities when the safety of our customers and employees is threatened,” Woolworths said in a statement.
“The police monitored the protests today and took action when they felt protestors violated the law. Woolworths did not arrest any protestors nor lay any charges.” SAPA