Human rights activists in Cape Town have cautiously welcomed a decision by upmarket retailer Wellness Warehouse to pull products from an Israel-based company from its shelves.
The move by Wellness Warehouse came after protests on the weekend by the University of Cape Town Palestinian Solidarity Forum (UCT PSF) and lobby group Open Shuhad Street (OSS) outside the store on Kloof Street.
The approximately 40 protestors demanded that products from AHAVA Cosmetics products be removed from the store.
According to the activists AHAVA Cosmetics has become “a key target” of the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. They allege the company has violated the Department of Trade and Industry’s recent notice preventing the false labelling of Israeli products manufactured by companies in the Occupied Palestine Territories.
They said AHAVA products were being mislabelled as ‘Made in Israel’ instead of ‘Made in Occupied Palestinian Territories’.
Well known activist Zackie Achmat, an OSS committee member who was part of the protest, said a manager at the store had informed them during the protest that they would remove the products from their shelves and would not stock them again.
“The manager of Wellness Warehouse has confirmed to us that their store has discontinued and removed all AHAVA cosmetic products from their shelves,” said Achmat.
“OSS together with our allies have been engaging with Wellness Warehouse for over two years now to respect the Palestinian call for boycott and, after a long campaign, we welcome this decision and thank the public who have been joining us for our regular protests and pickets,” he said in a statement.
When contacted by West Cape News yesterday he said they still believed that the retailer would honour their word, but if they did not, they would keep protesting.
He said at the core of the issue, was the “oppression of one group by another” (Israel oppressing Palestinians).
UCT PSF spokesman Bruce Baigrie yesterday (subs: Mon) confirmed Saturday’s victory but indicated that a journalist who had contacted the retailer on the matter had told him that the retailer had put the products back on the shelves.
He said that if it was true that the products were being sold again, it would be “extremely disappointing”.
“We will go to the store and see if its still there,” he said, indicating that they would protest again if necessary.
When contacted, the staff at Wellness Warehouse said only the Chief Executive Sean Gomez could comment.
Gomez had not responded to emails and his staff they would not provide his phone number.