South African protesters ransack H&M stores over "racist" ad

Saturday, 13 Jan, 2018

South African police Saturday intervened to clear protesters trashing outlets of Swedish clothing giant Hennes and Mauritz in Johannesburg over a controversial advertisement of a black child.

The H&M shop inside the majestic Menlyn Mall was closed and cordoned off on Saturday after it was hit by Economic Freedom Fighters protests.

South Africa's Eyewitness News reported that mannequins and clothes were strewn all over the floor in the malls where the protests took place. "There must be consequences to anti-Black racism, period!"

Bernard Joseph, EFF Western Cape chairperson, said they were protesting against H&M, and were hoping to convince H&M management to refrain from portraying their children as monkeys coming from the jungle.

It's since removed the online advert.

"We can't accept that H&M, after what they have done, is coming now and saying we apologise".

However, a woman claiming to be the young boy's mother slammed ad critics on social media.

The advert for a children's hoodie
Image The H&M advert for a children's hoodie

The campaign group Models Of Diversity, which pushes for more diversification across the industry, said H&M should be "ashamed".

In a series of scathing Facebook posts, she wrote: "Am the mum and this is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modelled. stop crying wolf all the time, unnecessary issue here. get over it".

"This incident is accidental in nature, but this doesn't mean we don't take it extremely serious or understand the upset and discomfort it has caused".

"We are deeply sorry that the picture was taken, and we also regret the actual print."

Responding to a customer inquiry H&M South Africa said the offending product "was not available in South Africa".

A police officer who declined to be identified in the press said members of the SAPS crowd control public order police unit had been summoned to the Kolonnade Mall, but there was no sign of the EFF members.