Local retailer Woolworths has sent a legal letter to BDS South Africa threatening to take the organization to court if it continues to protest at its stores. Pickets during the National Day of Action on Saturday turned tense when Woolworths allegedly called police to several branches in a bid to have activists arrested.
“In the Western Cape Woolworths unlawfully detained a Christian Reverend for over an hour and attempted to force police to arrest her. Despite demands from Woolworths management that the police must “arrest them” and in accordance with the law, the police refused to arrest the activists, pointing out that no crime was committed,” said the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P), a coalition group supporting the boycott campaign initiated by BDS South Africa.
The activist in question, Reverend June Dolly has laid charges of unlawful detention over the incident which took place at the Woolworths store in Cavendish Square.
Speaking to VOC Drivetime, Dr Clint Le Bruyns from the NC4P accused Woolworths of using “heavy-handed” tactics against protestors.
According to Le Bruyns, the company’s legal action was indicative that the BDS campaign was yielding success beyond the retail sector, making significant grounds in the academic, cultural, and financial spheres.
“Through our choice, sacrifices and our non-complicity we are positively making a difference in our society, whether at a local, national or international level. If you add all of those initiatives and efforts, BDS has been the most strategic movement in this solidarity arena,” said Le Bruyns, a lecturer at UKZN.
Woolwoths has in turn sought to counter an alleged decline in sales by upping its PR campaign. Later this month it will have top U.S. musician and producer Pharrell Williams performing two free concerts in the country. A week prior to the tour, Williams is scheduled to perform in Israel despite calls to observe a boycott against the controversial Zionist state.
The activist, who was part of an unsuccessful attempt earlier this year to try and break through an Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, Said the fact that the #BoycottWoolies campaign was still on-going showed the importance of the struggle for Palestinian freedom, as well as the struggle South Africans have been taking on the matter.
“As a former customer I never expected the campaign to be going on one year later. I expected better from Woolworths,” he said.VOC (Mubeen Banderker)