Global classifieds group OLX has banned the old South African flag from its platform.
The decision comes after TimesLIVE last week revealed that the old flag and different types of memorabilia bearing the apartheid-era symbol were widely available for purchase on the internet.
The report came a few days after the Black Monday protests‚ during which the old flag was hoisted. The act sparked a national debate‚ with many blacks saying the flag – a painful reminder of the past – should be permanently removed from public spaces.
OLX has responded to the calls. “We have always allowed historical memorabilia to be sold on our platform‚” OLX strategy head Thembani Biyam said.
“However‚ in this case, we understand that this flag is an unhappy reminder of the past for many people and, as a company, oppose what it stands for.
“Since being alerted to this‚ we have done a thorough search of the site and made an immediate decision to remove these adverts.
“Going forward, we will no longer allow the sale of any memorabilia using the old SA flag,” Biyam said.
Shelley Finch‚ who has started an online petition to have the old flag banned in public‚ applauded OLX and has challenged the Constitutional Court to follow suit.
Finch said South Africa must prohibit public use of symbols that represent pain and inequality.
“OLX has done a good thing by removing the old flag on its platform. That flag must be kept in a museum for heritage and learning purposes only‚” Finch said.
“I respect the views of those who say the flag is part of our history and we can’t change the past‚ but I believe the amount of pain it provokes outweighs everything.”
Finch started a petition last week and has collected close to 7 000 signatures. She intends to deliver the petition to the Constitutional Court.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has also called for the apartheidera flag to be relegated to history.
“Anybody who still hoists a flag that is representative of a terrible crime that was committed against our people‚ a crime that the world called a crime against humanity‚ should be condemned strongly‚” he said when responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces last week.
Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said the flag was an integral part of South African history.
It was the constitutional right of those who still wanted to associate with the flag to do so, he said.
However‚ the party did not support the use of the flag and the symbol was banned in all its activities.
Groenewald had previously said that South Africa had other symbols that were also a sad reminder of the past for other races.
“The Umkhonto weSizwe emblem is offensive to some people, but yet we have seen certain individuals using it in public without any reprimand,” he said.
“It’s sad that some individuals are still using symbolism to cause division and tension in the country.”