Vodacom is keeping some of its South African franchise stores shut after members of opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters allegedly vandalised outlets in protest of an image of their leaders at an event hosted by the wireless carrier.
In one incident, at Vodacom's Mall of Africa franchise store in Johannesburg, women were assaulted and goods stolen, the company said in an email. The EFF may have been responding to an image used by Corruption Watch Chairman Mavuso Msimang, Vodacom said, in which he depicted an image of the party’s leaders Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu, as “abusers of democracy” during a keynote address at an awards ceremony.
“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 behavior,” the mobile-phone operator said in emailed comments on Monday. “Vodacom is against discrimination and bigotry in all their manifestations.”
Images on Twitter showed people dressed in the EFF’s signature red berets and clothing entering stores or the damage caused in the aftermath of their leaving.