- The SAHRC says it has launched an investigation surrounding the controversial, racial and offensive advert published on Clicks’ site.
- The commission wants all Clicks employees – including those responsible for the advertising – to meet them.
- SAHRC Gauteng’s region manager Buang Jones says his office is leading the investigations.
The South African Human Rights Commission wants everyone who was involved in Clicks’ controversial advertisement, to meet with them and explain how the content was published.
The advertisement, which was published on Clicks’ website went viral at the weekend and sparked outrage. It showed pictures of four women; two being black, and the other two white.
News24 reported that the advert described the hair of the black women as “dry and damaged” and “frizzy and dull”, while that of the white women was “fine and flat” and “normal”.
The outrage saw the retailer apologising but it seemed much the damage had already been done and action to shut the stores being taken by South Africa’s third largest political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters.
On Monday party members, including its president and deputy president Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu staged demonstrations at Clicks outlets calling for them to shut.
While some protests took place with relative calm, others were violent with property and products inside the stores being damaged.
In a letter on Monday, from the commission to the retailer, it said it requests that, “all persons responsible for the publication of this advert, including employees of Clicks, TREsemme, Unilever South Africa, and any advertising or marketing entities involved in the advert meet with the Commission in order for the Commission to properly understand how the advert came to be published.”
The commission would seek to put in place, “medium to long term requirements and mechanisms, to rectify the actions of the persons responsible” and ensure, as far as possible, that it did not occur again at the hands of any entity in South Africa.
SAHRC provincial manager Buang Jones confirmed the letter to News24 saying it had been written and signed by him. He added that his office was leading the investigation into the matter.
In the letter, the commission said it had also noted the apology from Clicks.
“We have also had sight of TREsemmes media statement in which it states that it is ‘sorry that images used by a TREsemme … campaign on the Click’s website appears to promote racist stereotypes about hair.’
The letter further reads:
“The advert does not [sic] promote racist stereotypes about the hair of Black people, it asserts and perpetuates this racist stereotype and obviously and unfairly discriminates against Black people and Black women and girls, in particular. The advert and the inaction, unconsciousness or indifference of Clicks and TREsemme/Unilever South Africa obstructs and even dismantles the work done towards the realisation of equality for all and the constitutional project more generally.”
In a statement earlier on Monday the commission said it had launched its “own-initiative investigation” into the matter. It said it remained committed to understanding measures taken by Clicks to guard against such adverts in the future and other accountability and sensitivity measures the company intends to take going forward.
“The Commission has also noted that the advert by Clicks has elicited strong emotions and protests from the general public. The Commission supports the right to protest as envisaged in Section 17 of the Constitution, and calls for South Africans to exercise this right in a peaceful manner,” it said in the statement.
On Monday the health and beauty retailer said it had suspended two people, and indicated via a lawyer’s letter published on the EFF’s Twitter account, that it would not reveal the names of the people behind the TRESemme advertisement due to data privacy.
Clicks Group CEO Vikesh Ramsunder apologised in an open letter and said that the emotive responses had been mirrored by employees and management teams. An extraordinary board meeting was held at the weekend and it was decided that its own and third party promotional content would be audited and there would be urgent diversity training.
“As a company we cannot change what happened, but we are learning from this,” he wrote.
Clicks’ urgent application for a court interdict to stop the EFF from disrupting its business and intimidating staff and customers was dismissed with costs.
Read the original article on News 24