After a short-lived apology last week, the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) have vowed to continue their pig head campaign. Members stood outside Woolworths headquarters in Cape Town on Tuesday, with seven pig heads ready to place at its stores, while police guarded the entrance to the company. Two members of the organisation, Provincial Secretary, Siphelo Makeleni and Chairperson, Siphakamise Nhxowa told media just outside Woolworths in the CBD they intend on placing the pig heads at stores around the country, to bring awareness to their protest against the retail giant for their support for Israel.
COSAS came under fire recently after members placed a pigs head in the Halal and Kosher section of a local Woolworths store. According to Makeleni, the pigs head is symbolic and is a method of protest action which he says will draw the attention of Woolworths.
However, Makeleni responded to the controversial response from the public and other student organisations who do not agree with the measures COSAS has undertaken in recent days.
Makeleni added that the organisation has not intended for the action to be racist and still believes that it is the best way to protest the support Woolworths has given Israel by selling products made in the said country.
“As COSAS, we want Woolworths to stop stocking Israeli goods. We are not happy that they are raising the economy of Israel. We are not against any religion or race in SA. Through this action, we just want to show Israel that we will not tolerate their occupation in Palestine,” Mekeleni.
He further explained that the organisation does recognise that it excludes local Jewish or Muslim Palestinian supporters by placing the pig heads at halal or kosher sections in the stores, but in this circumstances, their support is not really important.
However, Ngxowa added: “We are not criminals, we are learners but we are able to differentiate between right and wrong. The reason why there have been publications that we are racist is because we do not have money.”
The organisation plans to continue their “fight against oppression”.
Meanwhile, provincial spokesperson for the ANC Youth League, Khalid Sayed said the student body does not agree with the action by COSAS but rather they believe in the cause.
“We should not lose hindsight of the broader issue here. While we don’t agree with the methodoligy being implemented by them but we agree with the cause.
Sayed said he met with COSAS members on the issue.
“We spoke to them but they informed us that they are frustrated. Calls are going unanswered and even Muslims are still purchasing from the halal section at Woolworths stores.”
Woolworths has threatened legal action.
“While we respect the rights of BDS and COSAS to peaceful and lawful demonstrations, we consider the ongoing pigs head protest objectionable and condemn it in the strongest possible terms. It is deeply offensive, socially divisive and disrespectful, particularly to our employees and the Jewish and Muslim community. It is insensitive to their religious and cultural beliefs.” VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)