Global classifieds group OLX has banned the old South African flag from its platform.
The decision comes after TimesLIVE last week revealed that the old flag and different types of memorabilia bearing the apartheid-era symbol were widely available for purchase on the internet.
The report came a few days after the Black Monday protests‚ during which participants were spotted hoisting the old flag. The act sparked a national debate‚ with many black South Africans saying the flag should be permanently removed from public spaces because it is a painful reminder of the country’s past.
OLX has responded to the calls.
“We have always allowed historical memorabilia to be sold on our platform. However‚ in this case we understand that this flag is an unhappy reminder of the past for many people and we as a company unequivocally oppose what it stands for‚” said Thembani Biyam‚ OLX head of strategy‚ analytics and monetisation.
“Since being alerted to this‚ we have done a thorough search of the site and made an immediate decision to remove these adverts. Going forward we will no longer allow the sale of any memorabilia using the old South African flag.”
Shelley Finch‚ who has started an online petition to have the old flag banned in public‚ applauded OLX for its decision and has challenged the Constitutional Court to follow suit.
Finch said South Africa must prohibit public use of symbols that represent pain and inequality.
“OLX has done a good thing by removing the old flag on its platform. That flag must be kept in a museum for heritage and learning purposes‚” Finch said.
“I respect the views of those who say the flag is part of our history and we can’t change the past‚ but I believe the amount of pain it provokes outweighs everything.”
Finch started her petition last week and has collected close to 7‚000 signatures. She intends to deliver the petition to the Constitutional Court soon.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa called for the apartheid-era South African flag to be relegated to history.
“Anybody who still hoists a flag that is representative of a terrible crime that was committed against our people‚ a crime that the world called a crime against humanity‚ should be condemned very strongly‚” he said when responding to questions in the National Council of Provinces last week.
Freedom Front Plus member of parliament Pieter Groenewald said the flag was an integral part of South African history. He said it was the constitutional right of those who still wanted to associated with the flag to do so. However‚ the party does not support the use of the flag and the symbol is banned in all its activities.
Groenewald previously said South Africa has other symbols that are a sad reminder of the past for other races.
“The Mkhonto weSizwe emblem is offensive to some people but yet we’ve seen certain individuals using it in public without any reprimand. It’s sad that some individuals are using symbolism to cause division and tension in the country‚” Groenewald said.