The attack on Mobile communications company Vodacom by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters has forced the company into closing some of its South African stores.
This past weekend, Vodacom outlets across the country were rushed by hordes of EFF members. Chaos ensued, with one store in Makhado, Limpopo, and another in the Mall of the North in Polokwane, suffering damages as a result of the violent protest.
A Vodacom franchise located in the Mall of Africa, in Gauteng, also fell victim to the riotous behaviour. EFF members clad in customary red regalia also attempted to shut down a Vodacom shop in East Gate Mall, but were halted by the shopping centre’s security personnel.
Despite video footage clearly showing damage caused by EFF members, the Red Berets have distanced themselves from the criminal action.
EFF goes to war over Vodacom’s “unwarranted attack”
While the political party’s national structures have denied any involvement in the protest action, provincial units, particularly the Eastern Cape contingent, have vowed to intensify their assault on Vodacom. The recent ‘protests’ stem from the Vodacom Journalism Awards which were held last week. During the ceremony, images of party leader Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu were displayed with the headline; “abusers of freedom”.
The EFF in the Eastern Cape issued a statement in the wake of the mayhem, citing:
“Their [Vodacom’s] platform was used to launch an unwarranted attack on the leadership of EFF as part of the wave of the media war against the EFF and their refusal to condemn such behaviour means they too are part of the effort to tarnish the name of EFF. We will be paying visits to all Vodacom offices in the province to protest against their involvement in this war against the EFF.”
Reports of staff and customer intimidation as a result of the protests have forced the mobile communications giant to keep some of its doors closed this week. Vodacom issued a statement on Monday, saying:
“Vodacom respects the right of every South African to freedom of expression and to hold legal and peaceful protests, but condemns any form of violent behaviour. The safety and security of customers and franchise staff remains paramount.”
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Limpopo, led by Jacques Smalle, opened a criminal case against the EFF in relation to the weekend’s protests. It’s been confirmed that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has launched an investigation into the attacks.
Jossey Buthane, EFF secretary in Limpopo, has hit back at Smalle, saying:
“There has been no official mandate, request or statement from the EFF to go to Vodacom shops and protest. Smalle must not blame the EFF. Not everyone who wears an EFF, ANC, DA, Cope T-shirt is a member of that party.”