A small group from the Action Forum for Palestine held a peaceful picket outside Woolworths in Cavendish Square on Wednesday, vowing to keep up the pressure on retailer, two days after four members appeared in court for protesting. While some supporters were seen raising the Palestinian flag, others were holding placards, calling on the company to end its trade with Israel. The three Pro-Palestine activists arrested at the weekend were present at the picket but remained unobtrusive .
“Our objective was never to antagonise the staff, security or members of the public. What we are doing is spreading some Christmas cheer and raising our voices of concern for our Christian, Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine who are going through the kosh of an ongoing war,” said Mohammad Philander.
Donning his Christmas hat, Philander and other activists were seen handing out sweets with a note to passer-bys, in the spirit of Christmas.
Local community activist, Hanif Loonat said the support for the Boycott Woolworths Campaign in the Western Cape is wavering.
“In the Western Cape there ais a minority realising the importance of this campaign. The majority have yet to realise this. You see many of those opposing, have something to say when they go shopping…they abuse our members. They make negative statements, not realising it is campaigns like these that brought down apartheid. We need to support this campaign the same way the international community did during Apartheid. I believe we should unite by setting an example with Woolworths,” Loonat explained.
While the action was calm for the most part, tension mounted as soon as National Coalition for Palestine member Terry Crawford Browne was denied access to Woolworths in his attempt to walk to the parking lot below.
Seventy-two year old Browne was seen forcibly removed from the premises by Woolworths security officials. Much to the dismay of other activists, the group pulled back as law enforcement intervened. Philander came out expressing his concern in the way in which Woolworths handled the situation.
“I think Woolworths needs to respect the human rights of South Africans. All Terry and his partner wanted to do was proceed through the store. That on a Christmas Eve is sad. Its a clear indication of how Woolworths treats South Africans,” Philander said.
Woolworths was unavailable for comment. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)