Woolworths closed comments on its Facebook page on Thursday after it was inundated by what it calls hate speech vitriol.
The JSE-listed retailer posted a statement explaining its position.
“Disabling our wall was not a decision we took lightly and not one we're particularly happy about. But when your page becomes little more than a platform for a well-orchestrated campaign of hate speech, we owe it to our customers not to subject them to such vitriol in our own house,” the statement read.
The social media frenzy started at the weekend when self-proclaimed "South African Internet entrepreneurial pioneer" Justin Harrison posted on his blog that Woolworths "blatantly" posted advertisements on its jobs site that were "exclusive of whites" (www.bdlive.co.za).
Harrison called for the public to boycott the retailer until such time they apologised and revised their hiring policy to be inclusive of and equal for all South Africans.
Defending its position, Woolworths said like all South African companies it had a role to play in transformation. And it was for this reason that some underrepresented positions were reserved for designated groups: blacks, coloureds, Indians, women and people with disabilities.
But Woolworths was at pains to point out that it employs people of all races.
As per regulations of the Employment Equity Act, companies that employ more than 50 staff members are compelled to fulfil race, gender and disability quotas.
Several organisations including trade union Solidarity and Pro-Afrikaans Action Group (Praag) echoed Harrison’s call for a Woolworths boycott.
“We have allowed thousands of comments on our Facebook page, debating the pros and cons of Employment Equity and deleted only overt hate speech and comments inciting violence. However, many customers have asked us to stop hosting this vitriol. We will re-open our page as soon as we think we can resume reasonable discussion,” the Woolwoths statement continued.
Meanwhile DESTINY readers had this to say on our Facebook page: