Members of a South African opposition party stormed into some H&M stores across the country to protest the company's controversial advertisement of a black child.

People protest in front of H&M store in Cape Town, South Africa, January 13, 2018.
People protest in front of H&M store in Cape Town, South Africa, January 13, 2018. (Reuters)

South African police Saturday intervened to clear protesters trashing outlets of Swedish clothing giant Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) in Johannesburg over a controversial advertisement of a black child.

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.

The company has pulled the photograph but the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) -- a radical group set up by the expelled head of the youth wing of the ruling African National Congress -- organised protests at several H&M outlets in and around Johannesburg.

The EFF protesters targeted six H&M stores in the Gauteng province, where South Africa's economic hub of Johannesburg is located, tearing down shop displays and throwing clothes around, police said.

The EFF leader Julius Malema said he doesn't regret taking the action Saturday, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported.

TRT World speaks to Yusuf Abramjee, a social activist.

"Several incidents of protests at H&M stores around the province have been reported," South African police (SAPS) said in a tweet.

"At the East Rand Mall the protesters managed to enter the shop & stole several items. #SAPS members had to intervene and dispersed the group of protesters by firing rubber bullets."

Video footage showed activists trashing displays, kicking over and pulling down clothes rails as well as pushing over mannequins.

Growing anger 

H&M South Africa did not respond to a request for comment, but its local website carried an apology for the advertisement.

"Our position is simple, we have got this wrong and we are deeply sorry," the apology read.

But Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, spokesman for the EFF, said that was too little, too late.

"The time of apologies for racism are over; there must be consequences to anti-black racism, period!" Ndlozi wrote on Twitter, posting pictures of a vandalised H&M store and video footage of chanting EFF supporters.

Floyd Shivambu from EFF said on Twitter: "That @hm nonsense of a clothing store is now facing consequences for its racism. All rational people should agree that the store should not be allowed to continue operating in South Africa."

Scandals of other companies 

H&M is not the only major company to be hit by an advertisement scandal in recent years.

Spanish clothing brand Zara in 2014 removed striped pyjamas with a yellow star after facing outrage over its resemblance to clothes worn by Jewish prisoners in concentration camps.

And in October last year, personal care brand Dove apologised after it was accused of racism for airing a commercial showing a black woman turning into a white woman after removing her top.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies