H&M Forced to Close South Africa Stores, Says It Will Reopen When ‘Situation Is Safe Again’

South Africans are currently unable to shop at H&M after the Swedish retailer has closed the storefronts. The 17 locations were temporarily closed after protesters trashed a Gauteng Mall location in reaction to a racist advertisement.

H&M was launched into controversy last week when a Black boy modeling a hoodie incited accusations of racism. The apparel, which has since been pulled from H&M websites worldwide, read, “Coolest Monkey In the Jungle.”

Economic Freedom Fighters, a local racial emancipation movement, toppled clothing racks, displays and mannequins at H&M’s Clearwater Mall location Saturday, Jan. 13. Other Johannesburg locations were also targeted.

“We are here to just remind them that the monkeys own this place,” Donald Mabunda of EEF told Jacaranda FM. “We are here to inform them: if you want to undermine the Black people in this country, these are the results.”

H&M has since released a statement regarding the protests, saying it is “aware of the recent events inside several of our South African stores.”

“What matters most to us is the safety of our employees and customers,” the statement continued. “We have temporarily closed our stores in South Africa. None of our staff or customers have been injured. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again.

After denouncing racism and bias yet again, the store said, “We stress that our wonderful store staff had nothing to do with our poorly judged product and image.”

Meanwhile, EEF’s Twitter page also made it clear that nothing had been stolen from any H&M stores.

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