28 October 2014
This weekend, after peacefully protesting in Woolworths at Killarney Mall on the #BoycottWoolworths National Day of Action, almost 60 activists of the 70-80 who were with us protesting were arrested and subsequently released with no charges.
Of the 60 #BoycottWoolworths activists arrested, three were minors, and one was our very own newly elected Deputy Secretary of the Wits PSC, Isaac Ramaphala. Anti apartheid activist Frank Chikane's son, Obakeng Chikane was also one of the arrested. The protest action at Woolworths was a staged "die-in", this means that Woolworths called the police to arrest people for laying down on the floor with placards saying things like "Humanity Died at Woolworths"and "Woolworths stop supporting apartheid and genocide".
Strangely, even after being alone with the activists in the store, due to it being closed off, the police only showed signs of making arrests once the activists had already left the premises and were walking to their various forms of transport. Those who came in cars were not interrogated by the police.The #BDS60 (the 60 activists that were arrested) were all from the bus, police had cordoned off the bus and emptied it out when making the arrests. They were detained for approximately 4 hours, and in solidarity, members of the community joined our picket outside the Hillbrow Police Station feeling disappointed and disgusted, but not disheartened while they continued to wait for the release of their friends, family and fellow activists. After hours of sitting in the sun waiting, feelings of triumph filled the air as the #BDS60 were released without any charges against them.
It is disappointing that while criminals are on the loose, our police forces are, under instruction by Woolworths, obliged to interrogate peaceful protestors advocating for the freedom and equality of Palestinians, in the spirit of social justice and international solidarity. Lest we forget, being South Africans, that it is through this very same commitment and activism from internationalists and human rights activists around the world that we are now allowed to shop at Woolworths no matter what our race is. BDS South Africa's #BoycottWoolworths campaign will continue until Woolworths lives up to its so called "socially responsible" image, by ending its trade relations with the apartheid state of Israel. We urge you to keep up with the boycott until we are victorious, and that time will be when Woolworths takes a stand on the right side of history!
Palestine Solidarity Committee of
The University of the Witwatersrand
Facebook Page: Wits PSC
Telephone: +27 (0) 71 502 8674
Office: 2nd Floor, Matrix Building, East Campus, Wits University.