The Cape Union Mart Group said on Thursday that it has never donated any funds to the Israeli army and neither has its executive chairperson, Philip Krawitz.
This comes after pro-Palestine supporters called for a boycott of its stores, alongside McDonald’s and Woolworths.
McDonald’s was called out for its franchise in Israel for a pledge to supply thousands of free meals to Israeli troops.
Woolworths was targeted for selling items from Israel.
Cape Union Mart was also called upon to be boycotted for allegations of the group donating funds to Israel.
The Cape Union Mart Group, however, says it held a meeting with Cosatu and the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu), including Malvern De Bruyn (Western Cape provincial secretary of Cosatu), Deon Simons (Western Cape provincial secretary of Sactwu) and 13 Cape Union Mart Group Sactwu shop stewards today.
The company said that the meeting was facilitated by Professor Brian Williams of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Roman Catholic Church.
Cape Union Mart stated that the purpose of the meeting was to clarify facts relating to the allegations made against the Cape Union Mart Group and Krawitz, linked to the current conflict in the Middle East.
The company said in a statement: “The Cape Union Mart Group has only contributed to humanitarian projects in South Africa. The company has not donated funds to any institutions outside of South Africa. The Cape Union Mart Group has never donated funds to Israel, the Israeli army or any other army. Philip Krawitz, in his personal capacity, has also never donated funds to the Israeli army (or any other army).”
The group further stated: “Philip Krawitz is a philanthropist who supports purely humanitarian projects in South Africa and Israel, in his personal capacity. He has made contributions to poverty alleviation, peace and reconciliation projects for several years, as it is his constitutional right. The Cape Union Mart Group is committed to creating and protecting jobs within South Africa.”
This comes after the retailer Woolworths said it was not taking sides in the conflict as it removed products it sold from Israel.
The NGO Africa4Palestine called for an end to the boycott of Woolworths stores after the retailer said it would not be stocking products from Israel.
“We want to set the record straight. Despite reports commending us for taking a pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli position – we have not. Woolworths would like to explicitly affirm that we neither support nor boycott anyone. Woolworths has no political affiliations and does not support any political party, organisation or country,” the retailer told “Business Report” last week.
EFF leader Julius Malema had also called for the stores to refrain from selling products obtained from Israel.
The EFF and ANC Youth League (ANCYL) have since welcomed the decision by Woolworths to remove Israeli products from their shelves.
Malema also urged McDonald’s South Africa to distance itself from what was happening in Israel, adding that they had until the end of the month to issue a statement on the matter.
“They have until month-end to issue a statement distancing itself from what McDonald’s is doing in Israel, giving food to murder women and children,” he said.
McDonald’s in SA had distanced itself from the donations of meals made to the army in Israel.
McDonald’s South Africa assured citizens that it is a strictly South African operation.
“McDonald’s in South Africa is a local enterprise, with full ownership and operation overseen by local management. We are not affiliated with McDonald’s operations in Israel, which is a locally owned Israeli enterprise,” said the company.
Cape Union Mart further stated that a few weeks ago, Krawitz publicly stated to other business leaders at a national event: “If we create jobs, we will reduce poverty. If we reduce poverty, we will reduce crime. If we reduce crime, we will get foreign direct investment. If we get foreign direct investment, we will grow our economy and create more jobs for our people. And that is where it starts in making this country great, and I believe there is so much that we can do.”