In the video, Adam Catzavelos, who is married to Kelly Catzavelos, a brand merchandise manager for Nike Africa, describes a beach in South Africa as “heaven on Earth” because there was no “kaffir” around. Kaffir is an apartheid-era slur used to refer to a black person.
The remarks were met by a firestorm of protests led by South African political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, which said they would file a criminal complaint against the man. The party is well known for not standing for racism associated with any fashion companies.
In a statement released late on Wednesday, the sportswear giant reiterated its “long-standing commitment to diversity, inclusion and respect”, and also said the man in the video posted online was not a company employee.
According to Business of Fashion, a Nike spokeswoman in London declined to comment, and Reuters was unable to independently verify the person’s identity. Nike has stores in 11 locations in South Africa, according to the company’s website.
The quick closures of the Nike Stores in Johannesburg are likely related to the backlash from last year’s H&M controversy when the company released an ad featuring a black child in a sweatshirt that read, “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle.”