PRESS STATEMENT: Woolworths Stores “Jammed” During Festive period

Various Woolworths stores, just ahead of Christmas, have been hit by the #BoycottWoolworths campaign. Some stores have been forced to temporarily close while others have been brought to a complete standstill. Stores affected since the beginning of the busy December period include Woolworths stores in Mafikeng, Port Elizabeth, Centurion, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and elsewhere across the country.

The choice of protest action has, in the main, been the use of “till-jams”. “Till jams” are a tactic inspired by the 1980s anti-apartheid movement. For example, in an anti-apartheid Irish campaign from the 1980s against the Irish retailer Dunnes Stores (which is similar to the #BoycottWoolworths campaign) activists and consumers would fill their trolleys and leave them at the check-out stands/tills of Dunnes Stores. Likewise today the boycott of Woolworths stores in South Africa seems to include these anti-apartheid inspired "till-jams".

Yesterday on the last Saturday before Christmas the following stores according to reports received were affected by #BoycottWooloworths protest actions: EastGate Shopping Centre in Johannesburg, Cavendish Square branch in Cape Town, Mafikeng Branch in the North West, Pavilion Branch in Durban and various others. Activists belonging to various groups such as the Action Forum 4 Palestine, KZN PSF, ANC Youth League and COSAS are determined to escalate the campaign in the busy festive period. According to a report by a Wits University researcher, the #BoycottWoolworths campaign has cost the company, at a minimum, over R8 million a month.

One #BoycottWoolworths supporter, Mthunzi Mbuli said: “We are in solidarity with the Palestinian people just as how they were in solidarity with us during Apartheid. During this festive period, we are reminded how Palestinian Christians are barred from entering the holy city of Bethlehem in the West Bank due to Israel’s Apartheid Wall. Woolworths, by maintaining its trade relations with Apartheid Israel is basically profiteering of such a regime. Our call to Woolworths is simple, end your relations with Apartheid Israel and we will end the #BoycottWoolworths campaign.”

BDS South Africa was not part of the recent #BoycottWoolworths "till-jams” and other in-store protest actions. BDS South Africa, as an organisation, has agreed in good faith to refrain from in-store protest actions. The court order which BDS South Africa intends on fully respecting, however, does not extend to other organisations and/or entities which are not a part of BDS South Africa.
The #BoycottWoolworths campaign was launched in August 2014 by the National Colaition 4 Palestine (NC4P), BDS South Africa, COSATU, ANC Youth League, MJC and various other organisations. The #BoycottWoolworths campaign is calling for the complete boycott of Woolworths until it ends its Israeli trade links. The campaign has received wide spread attention and support from various South African Government Ministers, artists, well known personalities and anti-apartheid stalwarts.

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