Three women were assaulted by thugs — apparently supporters of the Economic Freedom Fighters — at a Vodacom franchise store at the Mall of the North in Polokwane on Sunday.
Reports on social media suggested people dressed in the EFF’s trademark red regalia trashed and looted the store, apparently in protest at criticism levelled against the radical-left party by ANC stalwart Mavuso Msimang at the Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards held in Midrand, Johannesburg last week.
“The franchise store owner of Mall of the North has alerted Vodacom to an incident that took place earlier today in which three women were assaulted and goods stolen from the store,” a Vodacom spokesman said in response to a query from TechCentral.
“We understand that the business owner is cooperating fully with criminal investigations by the relevant authorities,” he said.
Eff supporters have vandalized a Vodacom store at the Mall of the North in Polokwane. They are protesting against an image of Julias Malema and Floyd Shivambu captioned “abusers of democracy”, shown at the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards #eff #Vodacom #sabcnews pic.twitter.com/r43Ngz8omA
— Shibu Mamokgere (@shiburyder) December 2, 2018
The spokesman added that the incident appears to be linked to comments made by Msimang, who was a keynote speaker at the journalism awards ceremony. Msimang chairs Corruption Watch and was invited to speak at the journalism awards on the importance of media freedom and why it should be protected.
“Vodacom believes in freedom of expression and would not censor Mr Msimang’s views or those of other opinion makers. Vodacom is against discrimination and bigotry in all their manifestations, including race, age, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation and political thought.”
The spokesman said the company “respects the right of every South African to freedom of expression and to hold peaceful, legal protests but condemns the destruction of property and violence associated with these actions”.
Vodacom have declared war against EFF….. let’s go . Let’s see who will win this war … Fighters Let’s goooo. pic.twitter.com/WZAdInkgOW
— HlengiweMkhaliphi (@DSGmkhaliphi) November 30, 2018
On Thursday, EFF deputy secretary-general Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi tweeted a picture of Msimang delivering the keynote at the Vodacom awards, which showed a photo of EFF leader Julius Malema and his deputy, Floyd Shivambu, on a screen behind him captioned “abusers of democracy”. Mkhaliphi tweeted: “Vodacom have declared war against EFF… let’s go. Let’s see who will win this war… Fighters Let’s goooo.” — (c) 2018 NewsCentral Media