EFF members ‘with no money ’ in shop protest

STORE PROTEST: EFF Ward 5 constituency members occupy the Shoprite store in Govan Mbeki Avenue
Pictures: MARK WEST

Blocking of store till points a frustration for customers

A number of shoppers at a busy Govan Mbeki Avenue supermarket were left frustrated and without groceries after a group of EFF supporters staged an unusual protest at the store at the weekend.

Chanting struggle songs and waving placards, the group of about 12 protesters from the Ward 5 constituency made their way to the Shoprite store from their nearby EFF offices just after 11am on Saturday.

Calling for an end to “white monopoly capital”, EFF members said they wanted Shoprite to share its wealth, especially with struggling students, and that there must be more transformation in senior management.

Protesters first called for staff to join them but when this failed, they decided to occupy the store.

After briefly being kept at bay by security, the protesters filled trolleys and baskets with everything from nappies to fresh produce and toys.

When the items were rung up by cashiers, the protesters claimed they had no money.

Four of the 10 operating till points were occupied by protesters, leaving a group of about 40 shoppers frustrated in long queues. Many customers left without purchasing any items.

One shopper, who did not want to be named, said it was a “total inconvenience”, before leaving the store empty-handed. Another customer, who identified herself as “Ntombi”, said she thought it was disrespectful of the protesters to prevent customers from doing their shopping.

The store was forced to close early. Five trolleys filled with items totalling almost R10 000 had to be taken back and unpacked by staff.

EFF Ward 5 convener Khanya Ngqisha, who orchestrated the sit-in, said the point of occupying the till area was to impact the daily running of the store.

“Our strategy is to affect their [Shoprite’s] operations negatively. Our position is that we want to communicate with them. Up until now they have not communicated with us,” he said.

It was the second time EFF supporters had protested at the Shoprite store.

On Workers’ Day, the same group went to the store and handed over a list of similar demands, including the permanent appointment of all employees who had worked for the company for more than three months.

Management at the Govan Mbeki Avenue store referred all queries to the group’s communications department, which could not be reached.

In a letter from Shoprite’s legal representatives dated May 10, the retail group said it had due processes in place regarding grievances which were dealt with within the framework of the Labour Relations Act.

It said demands falling outside this framework were improper. Ngqisha said the letter was “intimidating tactics” and that the protests were not over yet.

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