AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets after opening cases of incitement of public violence against leaders of the Economic Freedom Fighters party. PHOTO: ANA

South African civil rights group AfriForum opened cases of incitement of public violence against leaders of opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), following the vandalism of international clothing stores H&M in South Africa at the weekend.

“We filed charges today against three members of the EFF leadership, that is Julius Malema, Floyd Shivambu and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. It is regarding incitement of public violence, among others [it’s] about these incidents we have seen at H&M stores across the country,” AfriForum deputy chief executive Ernst Roets told reporters at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria.

H&M shops at Sandton City and Menlyn Mall and other parts of Gauteng were trashed, allegedly by EFF members.

“We are particularly concerned with this case, this complaint, because people were actively encouraged to use violence, and to commit crimes during protest action. That is something that should be taken very seriously, especially given that these claims of incitement were made by very influential political leaders.”

Regarding previous cases opened against the EFF by AfriForum, Roets said there has been progress in some of the cases.

AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets speaking to journalists after opening cases of incitement of public violence against leaders of the Economic Freedom Fighters party. VIDEO: ANA

“We have opened various cases in the past, and we have seen some of the cases having gone to court, among others a case we filed against Malema earlier about incitement of trespassing and encouraging people to engage in land grabs. There is a court case at the moment about that,” he said.

“So we have seen progress in some of our complaints, but we have also noticed that the criminal justice system can take very long in some cases. We hope that this matter, [regarding H&M protests] will be dealt with as soon as possible. In the past some of these cases have taken very long."

Roets said Brooklyn police had indicated that the AfriForum complaint will be elevated to provincial law enforcement.

“We are confident that we do have a strong case. It’s quite clear cut that these people [EFF leaders] were encouraging violence through social media.” 

The international clothing giant H&M — Hennes & Mauritz AB — a Swedish multinational retail company was involved in a race row last week when a photo depicting a black child modelling in a sweatshirt with the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle”, sparked widespread outrage on social media, with local and international celebrities blasting the retailer.

Thousands of customers called for a global boycott after the racially offensive advert.

African News Agency/ANA