Protesters ransack South African H&M stores over `racist` ad

EFF members occupying an H&M store in Sandton

EFF members occupying an H&M store in Sandton

H&M earlier this week issued an apology for the widely criticized ad, which featured a black child modeling a sweatshirt with the slogan "coolest monkey in the jungle", and said it had removed it from all its marketing.

A photo on the company's online website of a black boy wearing a green hoodie with the inscription "coolest monkey in the jungle" had triggered outrage on social media and among observers worldwide. "We are black and we are not ashamed of being black".

But in South Africa, protesters from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), targeted six branches of the store in Gauteng province, throwing clothes and tearing down shelves.

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Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said protestors had managed to gain entrance to the H&M shop in the East Rand Mall and steal several items.

In one location, rubber bullets were fired to disperse demonstrators. "If they want peace they must close this shop", he said. "I get people's opinions, but they are not mine", she wrote.

Protesters were wearing red and dancing and singing outside department stores.

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"The safety and security of our customers, staff, and tenants is of utmost importance and the affected area has been secured by the South African Police Service (SAPS)". "We are going to be here, but the security has told us everything is fine", he said.

The Swedish brand received serious flak for this, following which the company released a statement, "We sincerely apologize for offending people with this image". "We continue to monitor the situation closely and will open the stores as soon as the situation is safe again".

Asked by a South African shopper via Twitter why it had only white models to promote its new African shops, H&M replied that "it's essential for us to convey a positive message" which inflamed the row further, prompting the business to apologise for any offence.

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