The Kwikspar in the Neelsie could be in trouble if their kitchen policy doesn't adhere to the correct Halaal standards. Photo: Google Maps

Halaal controversy in Neelsie Spar

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”.

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