H&M stores in South Africa ransacked over 'racist' hoodie advert

H&M closes all its stores in South Africa after protests

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

Gauteng police have confirmed that they fired rubber bullets at the East Rand Mall in Boksburg to disperse Economic Freedom Fighters members who staged protests and vandalised several H&M stores around the province against a monkey sweater advert.

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

The Pretoria East Rekord reported that protesters had broken the shop windows at an H&M branch at the Menlyn Park shopping centre in Tshwane‚ resulting in the entire floor at the centre being shut down.

The clothing company tweeted an apology.

The global retailer, which has 4,500 stores in 62 countries, opened its first store in Africa two years ago and immediately found itself at the centre of a public backlash when it failed to feature any black models in its advertising.

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"We can't accept that H&M, after what they have done, is coming now and saying we apologise".

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has also hit out at the advert, modifying the slogan to read "Black Is Beautiful".

"Am the mum and this is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modelled ... stop crying wolf all the time, unnecessary issue here ..." People have called the image racist and inappropriate.

"This incident is accidental in nature, but this doesn't mean we don't take it extremely serious or understand the upset and discomfort it has caused".

'Therefore, we've not only removed the image from our channels but also the garment from our product offering'.

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

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