Activists vow to increase protests at Wellness Warehouse after company chooses to continue misleading consumers
Open Shuhada Street and the UCT Palestinian Solidarity Forum have vowed to increase their protests at Cape Town's Wellness Warehouse (Kloof Street branch) and have called on the public to join them on 13 October 2012, from 11:30-13:30.
After a successful protest on Saturday 29 September 2012, Wellness Warehouse removed all AHAVA cosmetic products from their shelves. Well-known public activist and member of Open Shuhada Street, Zackie Achmat, communicated this after a joint protest in Cape Town over the weekend: "The manager of Wellness Warehouse has confirmed to us that their store has discontinued and removed all AHAVA cosmetic products from their shelves. Open Shuhada Street, together with our allies, has been engaging with Wellness Warehouse for over two years now to respect the Palestinian call for boycott and, after a long campaign, we welcome this decision and thank the South African public who have been joining us for our regular protests and pickets".
However, yesterday (01 October 2012) the CEO of Wellness Warehouse, Sean Gomez, said to the Business Day Newspaper that his company will still sell AHAVA. Mixed messages from Wellness Warehouse representatives is a bad reflection on the company but, more worrying for human rights activists is that Wellness Warehouse seems to be deliberately choosing to trade with an Israeli company that is complicit in the Israeli Occupation. Wellness Warehouse supports AHAVA Cosmetics, which is guilty of exploitation and is openly contravening South Africa's consumer regulations. Because AHAVA's products are falsely labelled as 'Made in Israel', importers and retailers of the product fall foul of the Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits the mislabeling of goods. Open Shuhada Street has previously brought this to the attention of Wellness Warehouse management.
AHAVA Cosmetics, an Israeli-based company, is accused by human rights organizations of being complicit in Israel's occupation of Palestine and Israel's illegal settlements enterprise. AHAVA has become a key target of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel's apartheid occupation of Palestine. AHAVA operates in Israel's illegal settlements in violation of international law.
It is therefore concerning to learn that Wellness Warehouse reneged on its actions on Saturday and decided to re-stock AHAVA despite mounting pressure and evidence in support of ending trade with the Israeli company. This decision means that Wellness Warehouse continues to directly contravene section 24(3) of the Consumer Protection Act/CPA, which states that a retailer of goods must not display or supply any goods which contain a trade description which the retailer knows or has reason to suspect will mislead the consumer. By choosing to continue stocking falsely labelled products, Wellness Warehouse is participating in misleading its customers as to the origins of the products that they purchase. Ultimately, Wellness Warehouse has chosen to continue profiting from Israel's occupation of Palestine, land and resource theft and the deliberate stalling of genuine peace efforts in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Open Shuhada Street, BDS South Africa and the UCT Palestinian Solidarity Forum call on Wellness Warehouse and other stockers of Ahava to immediatly stop profiting from the Israeli military occupation by stocking falsely labelled products!