While the South African National Halal Authority (Sanha) has welcomed the report of the probe by the Independent Halal Review Panel (IHRP) into the halal certification procedures of the Muslim Judicial Council’s Halaal Trust (MJCHT), the body was still left disappointed. In the wake of the Orion Cold Storage scandal, where pork and other non-halal meat was relabelled as beef, deemed halal for Muslim consumption, and where expiry dates of imported MJC certified chicken were changed, the ulema body called for an investigation into their operations in an attempt to restore the confidence of the Muslim consumer.
Sanha expected the IHRP’s report to focus on Orion and its owner, Patrick Gaertner, as this was what prompted the public outcry and the subsequent investigation in the first place. “To us this was obviously born out of this great fraud perpetrated by Gaertner and his ilk against the Muslim community and should therefore have focused on that,” said Sanha’s spokesperson, Ebi Lockhart.
“The findings in the report does not touch on that. It’s been very critical and it talks about the operation of the report … we expected surgery or a dissection but what we got was a cosmetic make over.” Lockhart said the way forward now was to continue adding pressure to halaal certifying bodies and educate Muslim consumers.
“It was for consumer awareness only that the need for this panel has come about,” he said. “The consumer pressure and Muslim public, through this exposé, got the MJC posting figures on their website, having these panels etc. The work is far from done, but all we can do is ask the public to be vigilant – you have to demand answers,” added Lockhart. VOC (Faatimah Hendricks)