Johannesburg - A Pick n Pay franchise has been forced to stop selling mugs emblazoned with the words "The Maid" and "The Gardener" after members of the public complained that they were offensive and disrespectful.Twitter user @toni_verna was the first person to tweet a picture of the mugs saying she had seen the mugs at the retailer's Observatory branch and that she found them "hella problematic."
Many other social media users were also shocked by the mugs saying they could not believe what they were seeing in South Africa in 2018.
In the apartheid-era in South Africa, many white employers did not want to share utensils with their black workers. Therefore, domestic workers and gardeners had their own utensil, in most cases enamel ones.
By selling those mugs, Pick n Pay was seen to the encouraging separate utensil for the bosses and the workers, a point raised by @JamilFarouk who said: "In South Africa, domestic labour has a long history of dehumanization and racism attached to it. One method was and still is to deny helpers use of household crockery and cutlery as they were considered unworthy and unhygienic. This labelling encourages that idea."
How the store ended up packing the "offensive" mugs on their shelves without realising that many black people will have an issue with them was also something brought by @sammagopa who asked whether anyone would be held accountable.
"Or it's just going to be business as usual. Surely this could have been stopped in the supply chain process, you don't buy stocks without seeing it or examples."
The Star sent question to Pick n Pay spokesperson Janine Caradonna to find out among others things the reason behind the making of these mugs, who the intended buyer was, their response to the fact that the mugs were seen to be offensive also whether they did not believe that as the store they were encouraging the idea that domestic workers and gardener must not use the same utensils as their employers.
However, Caradonna just sent a statement saying: “These products were being sold by one of our franchisees. We asked him to remove it from sale immediately which he has done.”
Edited for use.