Pro-Palestine lobby group Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa have condemned an incident in which a pig head was placed at a Woolworths store in Cape Town. Pro Palestinian activists nationally have been engaging in a boycott campaign against the company since the military assault on Gaza in July. BDS spokesperson Kwara Kekana said they are looking into the matter, following a flood of complaints on twitter and via email.
“The latest actions of young people placing pig heads at various Woolworths stores – although aimed at increasing pressure on Woolworths – are not supported, endorsed or encouraged by BDS. We believe that the methods used, namely placing pigs heads in South African Woolworths stores, are very controversial and may not have been properly thought through,” said Kekana.
“It may be argued that the placing of pig heads is a form of militant human rights action however there is a great amount of sensitivity surrounding Halal and Kosher food. The pig heads have now effectively made various Woolworths Stores a complete no-go zone for those that buy Kosher or Halal as those areas are now contaminated.”
In a statement earlier today, the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) in the Western Cape warned it would place a pigs head at Woolies to pressure the retailer to stop selling Israeli goods. In the strongly worded statement, COSAS criticised Muslim and Jewish consumers who continued to shop at Woolworths, knowing the plight of Palestinians under Israeli occupation.
“Killing children, even at schools is not acceptable. We are not being bombastic when we say will bring the supporters of Israel pigs- we are being revolutionary. It is unacceptable that people, especially those who claim to believe in God to buy products from supporters of Israel. We will not allow people who will not eat pork, to pretend that they are eating clean meat, when it is sold by hands dripping with the blood of Palestinian children,” said the organisation.
“Woolworths is not Kosher. We cannot allow food like this to be called halaal or Kosher, it is dirty food- the dirtiest food. We have placed the pigs head in Woolworths to show these people of God that Woolworths is Haraam and it is not Kosher.”
Kekana said BDS South Africa would be engaging with COSAS to determine why this form of action was carried out.
“We do not believe that taking pigs heads to Woolworths is correct; we also do not believe that Woolworths supporting Israeli Apartheid is correct. We will try our best to discourage both.”
“BDS is a non violent movement and at all of our protests, we have displayed discipline, particularly during the Boycott Woolworths campaign.”
In response, Woolworths said it was appalled by the incident which took place at the Fort Road store in Sea Point.
“Placing a pigs head in our store is unacceptable and offensive to our employees and customers, including Jewish and Muslim employees and customers,” said Woolworths group director of retail operations Paula Disberry.
“We are investigating this incident and we will consider our options to prevent such distasteful protests in our stores. We will destroy any Halal products that may be affected and take any other appropriate measures.
She said there was no Kosher food products on the affected shelf.
The ANC in the Western Cape, whom COSAS is affiliated to, distanced itself, from the protest action. The photos were apparently issued on Twitter using an account called @ANCBranch.
“The ANC neither initiated nor condone this action. The ANC also do not know who is using a Twitter account distributing the offensive images called “ANC Branch”. This is not an ANC social media account.” VOC (Tasneem Adams)