Howard Feldman

Rampaging through H&M

2018-01-17 12:16
A picture taken on 13 January 2018 in Sandton City shopping mall in Johannnesburg shows the H&M clothing store closed after members the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposition party stormed the store in protest of a alleged racist slogan printed on a hoodie that caused uproar on social media. (AFP)

A picture taken on 13 January 2018 in Sandton City shopping mall in Johannnesburg shows the H&M clothing store closed after members the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposition party stormed the store in protest of a alleged racist slogan printed on a hoodie that caused uproar on social media. (AFP)

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I know exactly how the EFF felt. I also hate shopping. And sometimes I too have to stifle the urge to kick over a rack of clothes that has every darn size but the one that I am looking for. It is so frustrating. But I don’t.

It could have been worse. The EFF could have had their 13-year-old daughters with them when they popped into H&M stores countrywide. It happened to me a few weeks ago when my wife had an “unavoidable” appointment that simply couldn’t be missed. And it fell on me to take my girl child shopping. 

She nearly broke me. It could easily have been me on the CCTV footage rampaging through Cotton On. But at some point after I patiently made her change out of the scarf she claimed was a skirt and into something more appropriate, she acknowledged that I wasn’t doing too badly.

“Usually, mom is sobbing by now,” she claimed. And that’s true – it was not so long before that my wife literally sat on a chair provided by a kind shop assistant outside the change rooms in Woolworths, and wept. 

It really was one of the most affirming things my daughter has ever said to me. And I will always cherish that. 

So I know exactly what those brave men of the EFF were dealing with. Those freedom fighters. Those courageous warriors who chose to take on racism in the upmarket malls of the country. I just hope that they managed to get decent parking spaces because there is really nothing worse than having to 'schlepp' your lovingly-looted items across the whole centre.

I did wonder if they at least stopped at Sorbet Man before heading to Sandton City. I believe that they are running a “Fresh-Freedom-Fighter” special. The look is a two-day growth but with tons of moisturiser because the aircon in the malls along with the unnatural light can play havoc with sensitive skin.

One also has to keep in mind that the CCTV cameras can add up to 10kg. And that’s before looting.

To be clear, I believe that H&M blew this one. There is no excuse for printing a photo of a black child with the word “monkey” on it. None whatsoever. And it needs to be addressed and dealt with. But there are countless ways to do so. Rampaging through the stores with the blessing of the EFF leadership is not one of them.

The weekend’s behaviour by the EFF is lazy and populist. It takes no courage to ransack an H&M store. My 13-year-old daughter could do it too.

What is worse is that the EFF has continued to champion the rule of law in Parliament. They have taken the president to task for being a “criminal” and they have made certain that the law is adhered to. And they have gained support for having done so.

This H&M stunt is one that will call into question their motives and credibility. The law is not only a convenience and EFF leadership knows that full well. It is an “own goal” of massive proportion and they are going to have to work very hard to regain lost ground. Especially if they want to be taken seriously as a political party.

The EFF needs to put its arrogance and ego aside and acknowledge the mistake of the weekend. It needs to send a message that lawlessness is not what they stand for and that we can, and should, expect more from them.

- Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and Tightrope and the afternoon drive show presenter on Chai FM.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    sandton  |  johannesburg  |  h&m  |  eff  |  racism
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