PRESS STATEMENT: City holds crises meeting over 50 000 person #BoycottWoolworths protest at Pharrell Williams concert
22 July 2015

The city of Cape Town has called for a crisis meeting as they appear to be concerned about logistics due to the vast numbers of #BoycottWoolworths protesters expected outside the upcoming Pharrell Williams concert in Cape Town. The upcomings protests will be organized by a wide range of South African youth and other organizations.

Tens of thousands of #BoycottWoolworths protesters are planning to descend upon the various Pharrell with Woolworths concerts to express their utter disgruntlement with the boycott-busting show. It is alleged that Woolworths has partnered with the US pop star in an attempt to thwart the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. Due to its trade with Israel, Woolworths is currently facing the largest consumer boycott South Africa has seen since the end of Apartheid. Click here for a recent #BoycottWoolworths Pharrell Williams spoof video.

Pharrell Williams has kindled great anger amongst South African human rights activists through his decision to accept business with Woolworths - a company arrogantly refusing to source produce locally instead of from Israel. Pharrell’s for-profit decision sees him earning millions from Woolworths in what has been misrepresented by Woolworths as being a charitable tour. 

Instead of doing the right thing by ending relations with the Apartheid State of Israel, which would have seen thousands of boycotting customers return to Woolworths stores across the country, Woolworths has decided to invest millions in marketing in an attempt to entice people who have taken the principled position that they refuse to support Apartheid Israel or companies that trade with Israel. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu has emphatically stated: “those who continue to do business with Israel, who contribute to a sense of “normalcy” in Israeli society, are doing the people of Israel and Palestine a disservice. They are contributing to the perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo.” 

The less than one percent of produce that Woolworths continues to import from Israel (instead of sourcing locally or from the African continent) is tarnishing not only Woolworth’s brand name but now also that of Pharrell Williams and anyone else who decides to accept money for marketing Woolworths. 

Pharrell Williams is expected to face one of the largest protests outside a concert in the history of post-1994 South Africa. Two months back over 10 000 South African school learners protested against the Pharrell Williams and Woolworths collaboration. Many more protests have followed both inside and outside various Woolworths stores. 

The protests against Pharrell Williams and his Woolworths collaboration are expected from the time of the artist's arrival at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg as well in the cities that Pharrell will travel to. Woolworths and now Pharrell Willaims’ image is being associated with the faces of the thousands of children who have been killed by the Israeli government, which Woolworths has decided to support. 

We reiterate our call for Pharrell to postpone his boycott-busting trip until such a time that Woolworths withdraws from the apartheid state of Israel. By ending trade with Israel and respecting the boycott, Woolworths has the chance of being an ethical company on a journey of good business, as Archbishop Tutu has said: “The withdrawal of trade with South Africa by multinational corporations with a conscience in the 1980s was ultimately one of the key levers that brought the apartheid state – bloodlessly – to its knees. Those corporations understood that by contributing to South Africa’s economy, they were contributing to the retention of an unjust status quo”. We trust that Woolworths does not want to contribute to an unjust Israeli status quo.


10th Floor | Braamfontein Centre | 23 Jorissen Street | Braamfontein | Johannesburg 
PO Box 2318 | Houghton | 2041 | Johannesburg
T: +27 (0) 11 403 2097 | M: +27 (0) 74 054 3826 | F: +27 (0) 86 650 4836 
W: | E: | |
BDS South Africa is a registered Non-Profit Organization. NPO NUMBER: 084 306 NPO
BDS South Africa is a registered Public Benefit Organisation with Section 18A status. PBO NUMBER: 930 037 446