Wimpy is investigating an incident at one of its restaurants in which a patron dined in a Nazi-style military uniform, complete with a swastika on his arm
The incident garnered the attention of social media users over the weekend as they expressed their disgust at the symbol, which is not only associated with World War II, but also right-wing paramilitary groups.
Famous Brands, which owns the Wimpy brand, said it was reviewing the incident which occurred in Fleurdal Mall on Saturday.
“Wimpy has been made aware of a video showing a customer depicting Nazi insignia eating at our Fleurdal Mall restaurant in Bloemfontein. We do not condone discrimination and take matters of this nature seriously. We have immediately launched an investigation into this matter,” Wimpy marketing executive Jacques Cronje told News24 in a brief statement.
Reports indicate that the uniform may have been part of a World War II re-enactment.
Jewish Board response
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) commented on the use of Nazi symbols.
“So long as swastikas and similarly controversial symbols are displayed in a bona fide educational or historical commemoration context, this is acceptable,” David Saks, associate director of the SAJBD told News24.
“However, when they are displayed outside those contexts it amounts to propagating the ideology associated with those symbols, even if this is not the intention. Quite rightly, this causes great offence, and, at the very least, it should be strongly discouraged, particularly in a country like ours, where there are deep sensitivities over displays of racial prejudice.”
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has argued that it should be, but lobby group AfriForum opposed them in the Equality Court.
The issue of dress code has also resulted in inflamed debate in school communities as a human rights issue.
Schools have been accused of promoting discrimination for prohibiting certain hairstyles and dress that was not acceptable in South Africa’s apartheid past.
“Although there may be a fine line between rules and discrimination, a school should ideally develop reasonableness tests to ascertain whether a child’s dress, actions and so forth affects their ability to learn,” wrote South African Human Rights Commission senior researcher, Yuri Ramkissoon.
It seems like the customer may have been participating in a World War II Operation Barbarossa commemoration event that took place this weekend in the area. We’re confirming the nature of the event and are immediately investigating this matter.(2/2)
— Wimpy South Africa (@wimpy_sa) June 23, 2019