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‘We are innocent’ – Cape Town BMW branch responds to EFF protest over job advert for ‘white’ person


BMW dealer principal Ryan Rheeder (left) and service manager after sales Ashraf Wallace.

PHOTO: Jenni Evans/News24

  • Hot on the heels of a nationwide Clicks shutdown, the EFF held a picket at a Cape Town BMW dealership after a report that it was seeking a white candidate for a post.
  • The picket ended in an agreement that the EFF and SMG would meet next week over the matter and that there would be no more pickets.
  • BMW SMG said it had nothing to do with the advertisement, and was the innocent victim of an unsolicited bid by a recruitment company to fill a post.

As the nationwide Clicks shutdown by the EFF draws to a close, another picket began on Friday, this time outside a BMW dealership in Cape Town following a news report of an advertisement to fill a vacancy, preferably by a white man or woman.

A small group of people stood outside the BMW SMG dealership in Century City with placards that read: “Stop employing white males only” and “BMW Stop SMG Racism”.

“We have come here to BMW SMG about a racist advert that was placed by the branch in Cape Town and we are pushing the agenda of transforming our society in addressing issues,” said EFF member Yusuf Joseph, as police monitored the protest.

The former provincial legislature MPL said:

It may look petty in terms of racism, but if we don’t address these issues it will become a boiling point within our different communities.

He said the Sean McCarthy Group (SMG) and the EFF would meet next week to discuss the matter and that provincial leadership would attend.

Dealer principal Ryan Rheeder approached News24 at the scene and said that the information in the public domain about the issue was incorrect.

“We are an innocent party here,” he said. “We are not racist.”

‘There was no job to fill’

Rheeder said the company’s marketing manager had resigned and emigrated, and an external recruitment agency had gotten wind of this and had seen an opportunity to do business by filling the post.

“There was no job to fill,” said Rheeder, who was at pains to say the company was not racist, with 35% of its staff white, and specialist training programmes under way for young black people.

He said, if there were to be any protests, they should be at the recruitment company Julian Schlemmer and Associates.

Schlemmer told News24 that comment on the matter should be from his lawyer. News24 made several attempts to obtain the said lawyer’s details from Schlemmer, but was unsuccessful. When News24 receives the details of his lawyer and comment, this will be added.

In a statement dated 2 September, the EFF demanded an investigation by BMW South Africa and the Department of Trade and Industry following the article in the Mail & Guardian.

EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego told News24 on Friday that the company initially did not go public to distance itself from the claim in the article, hence the protest.

However, they were satisfied that on Friday the company had immediately “humbled themselves” and agreed to a meeting.

READ | A new law proposes detailed employment equity targets for SA – what you need to know

He said the party was handling the BMW issue differently to the Clicks one, because Clicks opted to go to court first to seek an interdict against its members.

For this reason, the party would not go straight into further protests at the dealership for the time being.

“They responded, and said ‘Let’s talk’,” he said.

In the meantime, SMG has referred the initial media report to the Press Ombud, and intends pursuing legal action against the recruitment company.

This comes after a massive shutdown of Clicks following a TRESemmé advertisement the company conceded was racist, in that it depicted black models with “dry and damaged hair” and white models depicting “normal hair”.

The EFF considers the matter closed after a meeting with Unilever, but the shutdown has left many businesses jittery over similar consequences.

In South Africa, the Employment Equity Act sets out the ways in which companies must comply with measures to address the racial injustices of apartheid and undoing discrimination against black people.

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