Woolies wins court ac­tion against pro­test­ers

Judge or­ders re­tailer to hold talks with cam­paign­ers

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - OMPHITLHETSE MOOKI

THEY may not blow whis­tles inside the stores or use loud­hail­ers to draw cus­tomers’ at­ten­tion.

Nor can they dance, play loud mu­sic or lie on the floor, feign­ing death.

Th­ese were just some of the things mem­bers of Boy­cott Di­vest­ment Sanc­tions South Africa (BDS) have been pro­hib­ited from do­ing fol­low­ing na­tion­wide protests against Wool­worths.

The re­tailer brought an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion against BDS in the high court in Joburg and, by agree­ment, BDS un­der­took not to or­gan­ise protests against Wool­worths stores pend­ing a De­cem­ber 10 meet­ing be­tween the par­ties.

Judge Colin La­mont made the agree­ment an or­der of court.

BDS’s cam­paign against Wool­worths is over its trade links with Is­rael, a coun­try that the group says rou­tinely abuses hu­man rights in Pales­tine.

Wool­worths sells Is­raeli figs, pret­zels, pomegranates and cous­cous.

The two par­ties will meet on or be­fore De­cem­ber 10 and, pend- ing the out­come of that meet­ing, BDS was or­dered not to en­cour­age “the ha­rass­ment, in­tim­i­da­tion and the caus­ing of psy­cho­log­i­cal or phys­i­cal harm” to Wool­worths em­ploy­ees.

BDS was also or­dered to re­frain from con­duct­ing the fol­low­ing forms of protest:

“Lie in”, dur­ing which pro­test­ers scream and lie on the floor, block­ing aisles and feign­ing death.

“Till jam­ming”, in which pro­test­ers pile their trol­leys with goods, have the items rung up by the cashier, and then refuse to pay, de­mand­ing that Wool­worths stop stock­ing Is­raeli goods.

Plac­ing stick­ers dis­play­ing BDS mes­sages on goods inside Wool­worths stores.

Dis­tribut­ing pam­phlets inside Wool­worths stores.

Play­ing loud mu­sic and/or blow­ing whis­tles in the stores.

Singing, danc­ing and toyi-toy­ing inside Wool­worths stores.

Us­ing loud­hail­ers to con­vey their views in Wool­worths stores.

Dam­ag­ing goods inside Wool­worths stores.

Pre­vent­ing cus­tomers en­ter­ing Wool­worths stores or their free flow inside the stores.

BDS spokes­woman Kwara Kekana wel­comed the court or­der, say­ing it “af­firms BDS South Africa’s stance, and we are look­ing for­ward to meet­ing with the man­age­ment of Wool­worths to make our case for why Wool­worths should ter­mi­nate its trade re­la­tions with Is­rael”.

She said the or­der was pos­i­tive in that “Wool­worths ar­ro­gantly in­sisted for the past four months that they ‘can­not see what a meet- ing would achieve’.”

Another spokesman, Muhammed De­sai, said BDS would at­tend the Wool­worths an­nual gen­eral meet­ing to­day as “sev­eral BDS South Africa ac­tivists have bought shares in the company and in­tend to make the meet­ing the next site of the cam­paign”.

Wool­worths’ group di­rec­tor of re­tail op­er­a­tions, Paula Dis­berry, said the re­tailer “wel­comes the court decision to pro­tect our cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees from un­law­ful BDS in-store protests”.

She added: “The court decision also en­forces our right to trade free of threats and in­tim­i­da­tion.”

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