BY ERIN WALLS
The KwikSpar in the Neelsie is allegedly not adhering to the necessary Halaal practices during the preparation of its food. Although the Spar is in possession of and displays a Halaal certificate, some Muslim students at Stellenbosch University (SU) are saying that the retailer is negligent in its handling of Halaal certified products received from its suppliers.
According to Ismaeel Latief, chairperson of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and a second year BA (International Studies) student, the presence of pork especially undermines the requirements of Halaal.
“Halaal [means that there has to be] no traces of pork in [the food]. That is one of the things that is prohibited in Islam. So therefore, it cannot come into contact with any surface, utensils or instruments that have touched pork, as that would immediately make it not Halaal. So even though KwikSpar may be receiving products which are certified as Halaal from their suppliers, it may come into contact with pork in the kitchen, as KwikSpar has no regulation on it.
“This has been an ongoing issue since 2019, whenever the problem is brought to Spar’s attention, the certificate is taken down, however shortly after always gets put back up,” Latief said.
According to an article on the website of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) (SA), halāl is an Arabic word and religious concept that means “lawful or permissible”. The article reads:
“An halāl-approved commodity, consumable or liquid should have the status of being uncompromisingly hygienically-clean and healthy; not contaminated, not adulterated and it is wholesome, thus fit for Muslim consumption.
The MJC, according to its website, is “a Muslim Judiciary whose main functions relate to religious guidance, education, Fatawa, Da’wah, Halaal certification and Social Development”.
Junaid Bray, manager of Mariam’s Kitchen, a food outlet in The Neelsie which is apparently strictly Halaal, says “there cannot be any bacon on sight and there has to be at least one Muslim employee there at all times. If not, it is not Halaal. So yes, a store could have Halaal produce from their suppliers, but what occurs in the kitchen once they receive it, could immediately make it not Halaal.”
Criteria I of the Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust (MJCHT), states that “at least one of two Muslim personnel who are trained and well-informed about Halaal standards and Halaal requirements shall, at all times, be on site and in control of the goods received”.
Maarten Venter, the co-owner and managing director of KwikSpar in the Neelsie, confirmed that the retailer only has a certificate stating the products they receive from their supplier are Halaal, however no certification that the preparation abides with Halaal within the store itself.
“I cannot say that there is no cross contamination. We have never claimed that we are Halaal, only our suppliers of certain brands are,” Venter said.
Fadeelah Williams, a member of the Student Representative Council (SRC) said, “In August last year I asked the female who was serving the Chikka Chicken burgers if it was halaal, to which she said yes and that they follow Halaal practices, as well as the next time when I asked on a separate occasion.” Williams claimed she also asked again during the registration period this year if they are Halaal, to which they responded yes again.
Sheri Govender, a second year Education student, said that in August last year she went to buy lunch at Chikka Chicken.
“When we went, we noticed the [Halaal] certificate was not up anymore and we had heard rumours that it was actually Halaal,” she said.
“We asked to see the certificate and the worker went to the back and showed us a copy of the certificate that was in a flip file, which was quite strange, as usually businesses have the certificate framed or on display.”
Fredrick Boer, a first year Bcom (Financial Accounting) student said that he visited Spar in the first week of the academic year when he arrived in Stellenbosch.
“I did not know if they were Halaal or not as I was new, so I asked the ladies behind the counter if the food was halaal, to which they replied and said that everything between the Chikka Chicken and pies is Halaal.”
Latief claims that Muslim students are being exploited.
“There are very few Halaal certified places within the Neelsie, Mariams being one of them. However, they are expensive, and again, unknowing Muslim students will then go to Spar, see the certificate for the supplier and are told it is Halaal by the workers, which is false,” said Latief.
When informed of the alleged misinformation Muslim students are presented with by Spar employees,Venter claimed that he was unaware of this and that “they should not be [telling Muslim students], as it is not true”.