Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni yesterday rejected Clicks’ apology for airing a hair product advertisement that triggered outrage for its offensive racial implications, saying the retail chain ‘missed the point’.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have made the Clicks advertisement the focus of a week-long campaign, insisting they want the chain’s stores to be kept closed until Friday ‘so that they lose money’.

On Monday, the government issued a muted statement calling for calm, while acknowledging the offensiveness of the advertisement.

Yesterday, however, Ntshavheni said in a statement: ‘Clicks misses the point that the offence is not only about the images that are insensitive but the fact that it represents the views of TRESemmé that are racist and reflects the continued undermining of the beauty of African women and the violence they suffer when they are deemed not meeting [sic] certain superficial standards. Therefore, to pull down the advert and issue a public apology cannot cut it.’

Like Clicks, TRESemmé South Africa and Unilever issued a public apology.

As continuing protests by the EFF yesterday ensured many of the chain’s stores remained closed for a second day, Clicks confirmed it had dumped TRESemmé as a supplier, and that it had accepted the resignation of a senior executive over the saga. Other staff had been suspended.

In Gauteng, police said they had arrested five people in connection with the destruction of a Clicks outlet at the Lemon Tree shopping centre in Alberton.

Police Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said: ‘It is reported that the employees had locked themselves inside the store after receiving a warning of the planned EFF protest against Clicks stores, and that a group of people clad in EFF regalia were coming for this particular store.

‘On arrival of the latter group at the store and finding the doors locked, the suspects allegedly smashed and broke down the windows and the door, forcing entry into the store where they caused further damage, including a fire that was swiftly contained. The exact cause of the fire is yet to be confirmed.’

A police investigation led to the arrest of five people aged between 21 and 40.

‘Their court appearance is yet to be determined,’ Peters said.

Yesterday, the High Court in Pretoria interdicted the EFF and those ‘acting in concert with it or pursuant to instructions from it’ from inciting violence against Clicks’ ‘ordinary commercial operations’, and intimidating its customers and staff.

Acting Judge Norman Manoim issued the interdict yesterday morning in response to a second urgent application brought by the retailer on Monday night after its first one was dismissed on a legal technicality on Monday morning.

Minister Ntshavheni weighed in yesterday to say that ‘(the) continuous undermining of black people, of women and black young people is because economically [they are] not strong enough. So if Clicks are serious about being a good corporate in South Africa, they must contribute to that inclusive economy and say how many of their products are made by black women and how many of their products are suitable for black hair.’

She added: ’The time for South Africa to accept lip service apologies on racism and derogatory acts is over … Apologies must be backed by action to build a non-racial and equal society. A non-racial and equal society can only be underpinned by an inclusive economy, which requires the empowerment of black, women and youth-owned businesses.’

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