PRESS STATEMENT: Successful "Seng Khatele” flashmob as part of #BoycottWoolworths held amidst chaos as Woolworths hires private bouncers

Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation BDS South Africa would like to commend the volunteers, activists and ordinary members of the public that came out in their numbers today from across the country as part of the #BoycottWoolworths National Day of Action. In particular, we would like to commend the students and others that organised a flashmob based on the popular song “Seng Khatele” by Euphonic (ft Shota). The “Seng Khatele” flashmob was performed at Woolworths branches at Maponya Mall and Rosebank Mall. Both stores were brought to a standstill and had to temporarily shut down. The lyrics of the original song was adapted to:

“Oooh Woolworths kwenze njani?!
Udlala Ngathi…
Why unga sitjeli, umuThandi Mali Yethu…

Ufuna lokhu, Na Lokhu, Na Lokhu
Tomorrow Lokhu, Na Lokhu, Na Lokhu…

Nale Israel, Ine Problem…
Iya Bulala, Ama Palestine…


Sesi’khathele… Sikhathele…
Wena nama Israel….
Niya si_User…
Sesi’Khathele… Woolworths…
Ama Israel… Nama Products Wabo…"

The well choreographed “Seng Khatele” flashmob was highly successful in getting the attention of on-lookers and drawing focus on and awareness about the growing #BoycottWoolworths campaign. BDS South Africa, the National Coalition 4 Palestine, COSATU, ANC Youth League and various other organisations have called for a boycott of Woolworths until it ends its 12 million rand trade relations with Apartheid Israel. The termination of relations with Israel is called for as part of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign which seeks to isolate Israel until Israel respects international law and Palestinian human rights. The BDS campaign is inspired by the successful isolation of Apartheid South Africa.

It is disappointing to note that Woolworths Management at several stores hired private bouncers to counter and try to suppress protest actions that were undertaken by activists across the country as part of the Monthly National Day of Action. The violent response by Woolworths and its hired bouncers, instead of quietening the peaceful protestors and non-violent protest actions, had the opposite impact of causing massive disturbances at malls and shopping centres. For example, at Rosebank Mall the Woolworths store was shut down and several neighboring stores were affected due to the commotion caused by the violent reaction of the Woolworths bouncers to the peaceful flashmob and protest.

In the Western Cape we note the aggression by Woolworths increasing with the detention of activists and the reading of a "banning order" by Woolworths Cavendish branch. There was also a shameful incident at Constantia branch of Woolworths where a manager accused activists of shoplifting and detained them for 2 hours, then withdrew the charges admitting that they were baseless and nothing short of blatant lies (when the South African police arrived). These activists included the provincial chairperson of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS_, a provincial task team member of the ANC Youth League, a National Task Team member of the ANC Youth League, a National Committee Member of the YCL, a PEC member of POPCRU trade union and members of Wynberg branch of the ANC. There were several other #BoycottWoolworths actions that took place in the Western Cape including at Canal Walk, Rondebosch and Cape Town CBD.

BDS South Africa condemns in the strongest terms the arrogant, forceful and intimidating approach that Woolworths stores have adopted to respond to the non-violent #BoycottWoolworths National Day of Action protests. BDS South Africa also condemns the arrogant way in which the Directors of Woolworths have refused to meet with BDS South Africa to engage and resolve this issue.

We are disappointed that Woolworths has not done the right thing, is choosing to stand on the wrong side of history and is failing to live up to its own ethical image that it tries to portray. However, there is still an opportunity for Woolworths to do the right thing. There is still hope for Woolworths, it can do the right thing by heeding the call to terminate its unnecessary trade links with Apartheid Israel and in the process prove its commitment to ethics, responsible business and human rights. Until then we will intensify the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. Click here for more information on the #BoycottWoolworths campaign.


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