Archive | January 2012

Muslim Judicial Council publishes financial records

http://www.iol.co.za/business/companies/mjc-publishes-trust-s-records-1.1222354

MJC publishes Trust’s records

January 28 2012 at 03:05pm

By YAZEED KAMALDIEN

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) on Friday bowed to mounting public pressure to come clean, publishing its Halaal Trust financial records on its website.

Anti-MJC sentiment has been building since late last year after the body was linked to the scandal over the Orion Cold Storage company, which allegedly cleared pork – forbidden in Islam – as halaal or fit for Muslim consumption. Orion has denied the allegations.

Muslims have demanded answers from the MJC about its Halaal Trust (MJCHT), which has been accused of raking in millions from the sale of halaal certificates to businesses that sell products for the Muslim consumer market.

But on Friday, as the council moved to silence its critics, MJC spokeswoman Nabeweya Malick said they hoped their financial disclosure “can also result in good”.

The MJC statements show that the Trust earned R8 078 893 last year. Its expenses totalled R7 647 383, which meant it made a profit of R431 510.

“Public pressure has highlighted the fact that the MJC has not disclosed its finances. Now that it is published, it neutralises allegations that close to R1 billion had been made. It answers the questions of speculative voices,” Malick said.

She also hit out at those accusing the MJC of not having its books in order, saying that all profits went to educational projects.

“The MJC also has a farm in Philippi where it helps to eradicate poverty. Emerging farmers are trained to cultivate vegetables and feed their families.”

The MJC’s apologetic public meetings this week have, meanwhile, not deterred a range of splinter groups with knives out for the religious authority.

Muslims Concerned is one of the newly-formed small lobby groups. Founder

Allie Mohamed, who lives in Pelican Park, organised a protest on the corner of Jan Smuts and Klipfontein roads in Athlone on Friday.

His poster used the MJC acronym to spell out “Money Justifies Certificate”.

“The MJC loves wealth and they are selling out Muslims. They sell halaal certificates without inspecting the premises of companies,” he charged.

“How can we follow the MJC if they are lying? They had a meeting but offered no answers. They should say they made a mistake and are sorry.”

Mohamed was referring to Thursday night’s MJC public meeting at Darul Islam mosque in Surrey Estate, attended by nearly 1 000 people.

The MJC said it had called the meeting to offer an “explanation about the Orion issue”, and to explain “halaal processes”.

MJC president Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks apologised to the Muslim community for confusion from the saga.

But the attempt to restore the MJC’s credibility did not impress Mohamed, who called for a new halaal authority.

“We need this urgently so that we can know what is really halaal.”

Groups that have long been disgruntled by the MJC have also re-surfaced, with calls for the scrapping of the MJC or its trust coming this week from, among others, People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad).

Pagad spokesman Osman Sahib said they had been in contact with local Muslim businesses and consumers to boycott any products bearing MJC logos. The group distributed a statement outside the MJC meeting on Thursday night, but did not disturb the gathering.

Its statement declared that “capitalist exploitation of Muslims must stop because the corporate clergy class have lost our trust and proved their incompetence”. The statement was co-signed by the newly-formed groups Friends of the Hujaaj, Muslim Consumer Council, Hajj Watch and the National Consumer Forum.

“All certification of halaal must be done by only one national regulator that is properly legislated… all these religious mafias and monopolies must stop,” the statement said, adding

“Islam is not a trademark” and “Muslim markets cannot be sold as a franchise”.

But Malick shrugged off the opposition, saying opposing groups had been around since the MJC was launched in 1945.

“They will take any opportunity or weakness that they think the MJC has to attack the organisation. Our advice to them is to contribute to build the community,” she said, warning that it was “tragic when Muslims break down structures built over years”.

“The best thing would be to get involved with the MJC instead of criticising it,” Malick added.

The MJC reiterated this week that it had stopped dealing with Orion after the allegations surfaced that the company had labelled pork as halaal. In a statement this week, Orion claimed it had been sabotaged by former associates.

Orion boss Patrick Gaertner said in the statement that a “former business associate” and “his brother-in-law” wanted to frame him for R1.2m. He made reference to “acts of sabotage” committed on its business premises, but said further business dealings “with the two saboteurs” had been “totally severed”.

 

What is halaal?

Moulana Shuaib Appleby, religious leader at the Loop Street mosque in the inner-city, explained that halaal is “that which is permissible to do or eat in Islam”.

“When we refer to food or beverages, the ingredients have to conform to Islamic law. These guidelines are from the Qur’an (Islamic religious text). The Qur’an states that alcohol and pork are haraam (forbidden) and so Muslims do not consume this,” said Appleby.

He said that other items which are haraam include all carnivores.

“Halaal and haraam are linked to spirituality. Whoever consumes haraam, that spiritual bond with Allah weakens. Even if someone prays and he has consumed haraam then his prayers will not be answered,” said Appleby.

“Halaal is consuming food and drink that is a benefit to the body and soul.”

Appleby explained that a halaal animal would be any fish from the sea or herbivores that are slaughtered “by a Muslim”.

“The animal is slaughtered by slicing the jugular vein and you must say the name of Allah.”

Appoint national halaal body

http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/appoint-national-halaal-body-mp-1.1220876

Appoint national halaal body – MP

January 26 2012 at 11:59am

Yazeed Kamaldien

A MUSLIM parliamentarian says he has written to the Speaker of Parliament on establishing a single national halaal authority that would replace existing bodies scattered countrywide.

Cape Town-based MP Haniff Hoosen, secretary-general for the Independent Democrats, told the Cape Times yesterday that this was meant to protect Muslim consumers.

“I have written to the Speaker of Parliament that it is my intention to file a private member’s bill. This is the opportunity that any member of parliament has to file a proposal to establish a law,” Hoosen said.

He said the ongoing scandal involving Orion Cold Storage and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) had offered fertile ground for the establishment of a new authority.

The MJC alleges that Orion labelled pork as halaal. Orion denies these allegations and said in a statement this week that it had been “sabotaged” by disgruntled employees.

The MJC has since called a public meeting tonight at the Darul Islam Mosque in Surrey Estate at 8pm.

Hoosen said he had consulted with four major halaal authorities, including the MJC, on establishing a central halaal clearance authority. He said that the response from the organisations had been “lukewarm … because they fear they might not profit”.

This national body would be responsible for checking whether meat was halaal, or fit for consumption under Islamic law, for local Muslims. Hoosen said that it would also charge a fee for certifying products as halaal, but legislation would determine that it donated profits to Islamic institutions.

“There are four major organisations that deal with halaal accreditation nationally. They all have different standards. We need one national body that would set required standards,” said Hoosen.

He said halaal authorities could only withdraw halaal certification from a non-compliant company. “That company breaks the rules and then goes to another halaal authority for a certificate and gets it. There is no record of non-compliance because there is very little co-operation between the organisations.”

Hoosen said he was concerned that Muslims were consuming non-halaal goods. “There are many other companies that are not respecting Islamic laws around halaal matters. If a body is established by government, there could be laws that would ensure a fine or imprisonment for those who break the law. ”

Patrick Gaertner, of the Muizenberg-based Orion Cold Storage company, issued a statement this week on allegations that his company sold halaal-labelled pork to Muslims. Pork is forbidden for Muslims. “Allegations that Muslims have been ‘fed pork for years’ are untrue.”

“Orion maintains that it has been the subject of a two-pronged vindictive sabotage of its business operation. One for blackmail and extortion and the other for the benefit of its competitors. Orion is taking all possible steps to assist SAPS and Sars in their investigations against the perpetrators of these crimes.”

Gaertner also claimed that “a former business associate of Orion … (and) his brother-in-law” made video clips that indicated that Orion labelled pork as halaal in an attempt to bribe his company.

“One of the video clips … was offered for sale to Orion at a price of R1.2 million. Orion refused.”

He also said that “acts of sabotage were committed”.

Muslim Judicial Council hits back at critics

http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/mjc-hits-back-at-critics-1.1219991

MJC hits back at critics

January 25 2012 at 12:45pm

Yazeed Kamaldien

THE Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) which has governed local Islamic affairs since 1945, came out fighting yesterday amid calls for it to be scrapped.

The MJC, which came under fire after it was linked to the Orion Cold Storage company that allegedly sold halaal-labelled pork, is battling to restore its shattered credibility among Cape Town’s Muslims – some of whom are now calling for government intervention in setting up a halaal certification body.

Pork is forbidden to Muslims, while certifying something as halaal (permissible) means having stringent regulations in place.

Orion imported 18 consignments of poultry last year which was cleared as halaal. It then allegedly sold pork labelled as halaal meat. Orion, however, has not claimed responsibility for selling pork labelled as halaal.

The MJC has on various occasions been blamed for negligence and for issuing halaal certificates as a means to profiteer. Businesses that want to sell halaal products need to pay a fee and register with the MJC.

At a press briefing yesterday, Sheikh Moosa Titus, senior halaal consultant with the MJC Halaal Trust, said Orion had paid a R16 000 service fee to have the 18 consignments cleared as halaal. It also paid a R1 700 registration fee to the Halaal Trust.

MJC president Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks deferred the blame entirely on Orion, saying it was the “epicentre where this criminal act and fraudulent process took place”.

“We are not here to speak in defence of Orion,” he said.

Hendricks said that 75 percent of the Halaal Trust’s profits were ploughed into MJC projects.

MJC spokeswoman Nabeweya Malick said its Halaal Trust “had never certified pork meat or any product derived from pork”.

“It is a fundamental principle and one adhered to diligently by the Halaal Trust throughout its history of service to the community,” she said.

Malick said Orion was registered as an importer of halaal poultry and meat “on a consignment basis”.

“The labels printed during the fraudulent, criminal process, were not Halaal Trust-authorised or MJC labels,” she said.

A local TV station last week fuelled the fire when it alleged the MJC did not want to answer its questions on whether it cleared pork as halaal.

Malick dismissed calls within the local Muslim community for the MJC to be scrapped.

Farid Esack, head of religion studies at the University of Johannesburg, said that the MJC’s “credibility in the Muslim community has been dented”. Esack is a Muslim scholar from Cape Town, who has written extensively on the Muslim community.

“On the surface, it seems that pork products have been branded as halaal with MJC labels. The MJC’s response can at best be described as a public relations disaster,” he said.

Esack said that halaal certification “doesn’t allow things to fall through the cracks”.

“You have Muslims who will flagrantly disobey every single tenet of Islamic law, but the line of pork consumption is not crossed for those Muslims. Pork is involved in this case and that has caused severe damage for the MJC,” he said.

Esack said the MJC would bounce back, though, because the dissidents were “inconsequential”.

“The MJC has a deeply-rooted history in the Muslim community. Every competing organisation has challenged its authority and it has emerged from all those challenges strengthened.

“This is like the ANC. No matter how many blunders, it occupies just too large a space in the imagination of the Muslim community.”

Meanwhile, outside MJC’s offices, an anti-MJC picket was held. Protesters were from the People against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) and the National Consumer Forum (NCF).

Imraahn Mukaddam, chairman of the Western Cape branch of the NCF, called the protest the “occupation of Cashel Avenue”, where the MJC’s offices are based in Crawford. The NCF aims to protect consumer rights.

Some of the protesters had a short scuffle with MJC security guards, although no actual violence took place.

The MJC had contacted the police, who made no arrests but monitored the scene. Mukaddam said the scuffle occurred when “one of our people asked for water and they were threatened at the gate”.

“We are asking for one halaal authority under the government. We are endorsing a campaign against all products certified halaal by the MJC. We will be writing to all companies to withdraw products with MJC labels,” Mukaddam said.

“We are asking for a commission of inquiry into halaal certification and we are asking for government intervention.”

Pagad representative Ihgsaan Bester said that the MJC “lacks transparency”.

“We call for the removal of the MJC,” Bester said.

Meanwhile SMSes creating more doubt about the MJC’s legitimacy have also been circulating. One read that the MJC has “now announced and officially withdrawn certification from all Nando’s outlets countrywide as it was undoubtedly proven that Orion is the main supplier of chicken to all stores”.

“It is your duty as a Muslim not to support these stores until the matter is resolved,” the SMS says.

The MJC said yesterday that this was a hoax and that Nando’s remained halaal.

Muslim Judicial Council apologises to Muslims

http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/mjc-apologises-to-muslims-1.1221652

MJC apologises to Muslims

January 27 2012 at 10:22am

Yazeed Kamaldien

IN a move to restore the shattered confidence of Muslims over the halaal scandal, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has extended an apology for the confusion the saga has caused.

The council has come under fire after recently being linked to Orion Cold Storage – a company where pork was allegedly labelled as halaal meat.

Pagad and the National Consumer Forum (NCF) – groups critical of the MJC’s handling of the affair – want the council to be scrapped, but the MJC has denied the allegations and rejected the call.

At a public meeting at the Darul Islam Mosque in Surrey Estate last night, its president, Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks, said the MJC would never make pork halaal. He urged the Muslim community to accept the council’s apology.

“We are here to regain hearts. If a brother apologises, accept it. If somebody wants to reach out to you, accept it as a brother in Islam,” Hendricks told about 1000 people.

He said anger among Muslims over the past few days was proof that the roots of Islam were planted in a community that would not compromise its principles.

“Whenever there is pain and emotion, we go on record to call out to the community to rectify that which needs to be rectified. The community must always enjoy a good relationship with religious leaders. There is nothing wrong if anybody wants to clarify or to ask a question. The day we see the matters of this religion entrusted to those who are not worthy of this responsibility, you should await the final hour.”

At the meeting, members of Pagad and the NCF told the Cape Times they wanted to hear what the MJC had to say. During question time a member of Qiblah questioned the MJC’s leadership. The meeting was watched by security guards in plain clothes.

Muslim Judicial Council not to blame for halaal-labelled pork

http://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/we-are-not-to-blame-for-halaal-labelled-pork-1.1219856

‘We are not to blame for halaal-labelled pork’

January 25 2012 at 11:50am

By Yazeed Kamaldien

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) which has governed local Islamic affairs since 1945, came out fighting yesterday amid calls for it to be scrapped.

The MJC, which came under fire after it was linked to the Orion Cold Storage company that allegedly sold halaal-labelled pork, is battling to restore its shattered credibility among Cape Town’s Muslims – some of whom are now calling for government intervention in setting up a halaal certification body.

Pork is forbidden to Muslims, while certifying something as halaal (permissible) means having stringent regulations in place.

Orion imported 18 consignments of poultry last year which was cleared as halaal. It then allegedly sold pork labelled as halaal meat. Orion, however, has not claimed responsibility for selling pork labelled as halaal.

The MJC has on various occasions been blamed for negligence and for issuing halaal certificates as a means to profiteer. Businesses that want to sell halaal products need to pay a fee and register with the MJC.

At a press briefing yesterday, Sheikh Moosa Titus, senior halaal consultant with the MJC Halaal Trust, said Orion had paid a R16 000 service fee to have the 18 consignments cleared as halaal. It also paid a R1 700 registration fee to the Halaal Trust.

MJC president Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks deferred the blame entirely on Orion, saying it was the “epicentre where this criminal act and fraudulent process took place”.

“We are not here to speak in defence of Orion,” he said.

Hendricks said that 75 percent of the Halaal Trust’s profits were ploughed into MJC projects.

MJC spokeswoman Nabeweya Malick said its Halaal Trust “had never certified pork meat or any product derived from pork”.

“It is a fundamental principle and one adhered to diligently by the Halaal Trust throughout its history of service to the community,” she said.

Malick said Orion was registered as an importer of halaal poultry and meat “on a consignment basis”.

“The labels printed during the fraudulent, criminal process, were not Halaal Trust-authorised or MJC labels,” she said.

A local TV station last week fuelled the fire when it alleged the MJC did not want to answer its questions on whether it cleared pork as halaal.

Malick dismissed calls within the local Muslim community for the MJC to be scrapped.

Farid Esack, head of religion studies at the University of Johannesburg, said that the MJC’s “credibility in the Muslim community has been dented”. Esack is a Muslim scholar from Cape Town, who has written extensively on the Muslim community.

“On the surface, it seems that pork products have been branded as halaal with MJC labels. The MJC’s response can at best be described as a public relations disaster,” he said.

Esack said that halaal certification “doesn’t allow things to fall through the cracks”.

“You have Muslims who will flagrantly disobey every single tenet of Islamic law, but the line of pork consumption is not crossed for those Muslims. Pork is involved in this case and that has caused severe damage for the MJC,” he said.

Esack said the MJC would bounce back, though, because the dissidents were “inconsequential”.

“The MJC has a deeply-rooted history in the Muslim community. Every competing organisation has challenged its authority and it has emerged from all those challenges strengthened.

“This is like the ANC. No matter how many blunders, it occupies just too large a space in the imagination of the Muslim community.”

Meanwhile, outside MJC’s offices, an anti-MJC picket was held. Protesters were from the People against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) and the National Consumer Forum (NCF).

Imraahn Mukaddam, chairman of the Western Cape branch of the NCF, called the protest the “occupation of Cashel Avenue”, where the MJC’s offices are based in Crawford. The NCF aims to protect consumer rights.

Some of the protesters had a short scuffle with MJC security guards, although no actual violence took place.

The MJC had contacted the police, who made no arrests but monitored the scene. Mukaddam said the scuffle occurred when “one of our people asked for water and they were threatened at the gate”.

“We are asking for one halaal authority under the government. We are endorsing a campaign against all products certified halaal by the MJC. We will be writing to all companies to withdraw products with MJC labels,” Mukaddam said.

“We are asking for a commission of inquiry into halaal certification and we are asking for government intervention.”

Pagad representative Ihgsaan Bester said that the MJC “lacks transparency”.

“We call for the removal of the MJC,” Bester said.

Meanwhile SMSes creating more doubt about the MJC’s legitimacy have also been circulating. One read that the MJC has “now announced and officially withdrawn certification from all Nando’s outlets countrywide as it was undoubtedly proven that Orion is the main supplier of chicken to all stores”.

“It is your duty as a Muslim not to support these stores until the matter is resolved,” the SMS says.

The MJC said yesterday that this was a hoax and that Nando’s remained halaal. – Cape Times

Life is hard… and then you try harder

http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/life-is-hard-and-then-you-try-harder-1.1216144

Life is hard . . . and then you try harder

By Yazeed Kamaldien

January 9 2012 at 12:41pm

A DETERMINATION to make something better of his life is what drives homeless Siyabonga Bobo, 27, to a traffic light each morning where he sells The Big Issue magazine.

Bobo stands on the corners of Buitengragt and Buitensingel streets with the magazine and a smile for six days a week. He left home in the Eastern Cape when he was in Grade 11 because he did not get along with his mother, whom he hardly knew.

“My mother only came home to wear widow’s clothes when my father died. They were married but I never saw her,” said Bobo.

“Staying with a person that never raised you is not easy. I asked myself all these years where she was. I had agony. I needed to heal myself by leaving home and taking care of myself.”

Bobo travelled to Cape Town “to explore my dream” as “it’s a bigger city”. But he ended up living on the streets because he did not have a place of his own or a regular income.

He started selling The Big Issue three years ago as it offers 50% of the cover price of each magazine sale to vendors (R9 of R18 currently).

Life on the streets is tough and Bobo knows he still has a long way to go. “I feel ignored,” he said. “But I’m enjoying what I’m doing. At least I don’t go home empty-handed. I can eat at night just like an ordinary human being. Homeless people just want shelter, food and ways to survive.”

He says that passersby tend to “tell you anything” and “take advantage of us”.

“Some think we are prostitutes. Some want to show you that you are worth nothing. But I look nice. I’ve combed my hair,” said Bobo.

“They say we are homeless and just drug addicts. You can’t say that all homeless people are drug addicts. Some of them are. But there must be something that makes you leave home and live on the streets.”

Bobo said that being on the street was also “tiring and risky”.

“Each and every day I pray to God to look after me when I walk between these cars. Some people are drunk when they drive,” he said.

He said he did not want people feeling sorry for him. “I am struggling to make ends meet. It’s not the end of life for me. I have a vision to be out of here.

“I want to open my own auto-electrical workshop. I want to fix alarms and central locking. I have some experience in this because I went to a technical college. I want to work for myself.”

Bobo said he was working hard to get off the streets.

“Everything that happens in life, happens for a reason. Maybe this is a lesson from God so that when I am living like ordinary human beings, not (struggling to survive), I must not forget where I come from.”

Pagad launches drive against MJC

http://www.iol.co.za/capetimes/pagad-launches-drive-against-mjc-1.1217938

Pagad launches drive against MJC

By Yazeed Kamaldien

January 23 2012 at 10:28am

People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad) has launched a campaign to stop Muslims buying any food products cleared as halaal – or permissible in Islam – by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).

Osman Sahib, the anti-drug group’s spokesman, said it also planned to hold a protest outside the MJC offices in Crawford on Friday. Sahib was speaking from Johannesburg where the group opened several branches as part of its national expansion.

Sahib said Pagad had decided at a meeting to bring the MJC “to account”.

The MJC has come under fire for granting halaal clearance to 18 chicken consignments from Orion Cold Storage last year. Orion was later found guilty of selling pork – which is forbidden to Muslims – labelled as halaal meat. The MJC has since distanced itself from Orion and no longer grants it halaal clearance.

Sahib said Pagad wanted the MJC to “run transparently”. “It is a big violation that Muslims are sold pork. Muslims have lost faith in the MJC (halaal) certification because the MJC has not upheld what they are entrusted with. We can’t walk into a restaurant any more and know for sure that it is halaal,” he said.

“We are phoning businesses and saying that they must not buy products with the MJC halaal label. Consumers must buy goods cleared as halaal by other organisations. We are going to put pressure on all halaal bodies and tell them we want assurance the product is halaal.”

There are a number of halaal clearance authorities in the Muslim community countrywide. The MJC is the most prominent authority in the Western Cape.

Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks, president of the MJC, declined to comment.

Sahib said Pagad didn’t want to establish another halaal body, but wanted halaal authorities to stop “making money out of this”.