According to TimesLIVE earlier this year the Economic Freedom Fighters decided to occupy Preston’s Liquor Store in Walmer, because of claims that it was engaging in misleading advertising and mistreating its staff.
When the EFF decided to get involved, the owners of the store didn’t want to meet with them – saying they’d investigate the allegations and speak to the staff’s union.
This was followed by a protest in which alleged EFF members would lay down a huge amount of liquor on the till, and then say they would rather buy it elsewhere, essentially wasting the store’s time.
The High Court in Port Elizabeth has now interdicted the party from protesting, and has ordered that they pay the legal bill. They have not however been charged with punitive costs.
In terms of protests, this is fine. It isn’t looting, it isn’t rioting, there isn’t any violence involved, this is how civil disobedience should be done.
That said, if the store was engaging in misleading or false advertising – we have a regulator for that. Why not use the Advertising Standards Authority?
The authority has always had a fairly good record on this sort of thing, and I think it would have done better on consumer protection to have it go through official channels and set a precedent.
A protest on its own doesn’t really do that. It is nice and visible, but that’s about it.
And abuse of staff, they have a union and we have regulations around that sort of thing.
We have these mechanisms for dealing with this nonsense – and using them strengthens those mechanisms.
Overall this is not something that I can really hold against the EFF, credit where it is due their hearts were in the right place and their actions were peaceful, I just wish they had enough trust in our public institutions in cases like this to use them.