Activists from the pro-Palestine solidarity movement have welcomed the withdrawal of a court application against the upcoming protest at the Pharrell Williams concert in partnership with Woolworths. Organisers of the concert at Grand West Arena were seeking an urgent interdict against the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement in South Africa (BDS SA) to the stop mass demonstration planned for Monday 21 September. Grand West Casino, the host of the Woolworths Pharrell Williams concert, wanted the courts to unfairly limit the protest action to only 150 people. By Thursday afternoon, the company back-tracked on its court application.
“This withdrawal is a victory for freedom of expression as the interdict that Grand West Casino had sought was highly improper,” said BDS SA in a statement.
“Non-violent protests and civil society activism is something celebrated in our country, this is something that Pharrell Williams, Woolworths and the event organisers must realise.”
The retail chain company has been criticised for its collaboration with Williams, which many see as a marketing strategy to offset the national boycott campaign. Last year, Woolworths announced a partnership with the Grammy award-winning musician, as part of a series of sustainability-focused projects. The campaign has four layers: pure entertainment, showcasing young talent, fundraising for education, and driving sustainable fashion.
“Woolworths and Pharrell Williams claim to respect ethics, humanity and human rights yet here they were indirectly complicit in a court application inherently anti-expression and anti-freedom,” stated BDS SA.
The human rights organisation said while they were not against Pharrell Williams nor Woolworths, they are against their trade and relations with Apartheid Israel. Pharrell Williams, according to media reports, is due to land in South Africa following an Israeli tour.
“Woolworths has a R12 million trade relationship with Israel that it has refused to terminate even though its customers, various organizations and human rights activists have called on the company to do so.”
The upcoming Pharrell protest is still the subject of another court application which will be heard on Friday morning at 10am at the Western Cape High Court and involves the City of Cape Town. This relates to the city council’s decision to grant a protest permit to accommodate only 150 people, when 50 000 protestors have been earmarked. VOC