Confusion about SUPERSPAR Gelvandale’s halal compliancy has been cleared up to the satisfaction of the Muslim community and SPAR Eastern Cape authorities.
The Al-Akbar Halal Authority and a team of inspectors re-inspected the Gqeberha store on January 11, a week after withdrawing its certification, and found it to be halal compliant.
Two days later, representatives of Al-Akbar and the Muslim community officially handed over the certificate to store manager Rohan Seymor.
Community leader Shaykh Mukhtar Raban, head imam of Taqwa Mosque in Gelvan Park, praised SPAR Eastern Cape for its cooperation in resolving the matter.
According to him, the retailer had been highly committed to finding a solution as it wanted to continue serving the Muslim community as well as other patrons who preferred halal products.
“I found their engagement very encouraging and thank them for the way in which they handled the matter. They were proactive and professional, which was greatly appreciated.”
Raban said the store served one of the largest hubs of Muslims in Gqeberha and estimated that around 8 000 lived in Gelvandale and the neighbouring suburbs.
Even Muslims who did not reside in the area had historically made special trips to the store because of its wide variety of halal products, he explained.
“As such, the store must have reliable halaal certification in place to grant peace of mind to its Muslim consumers.”
He said there had been concern among the community after the certifier had withdrawn its certification as they, naturally, wanted a reliable body to supervise the store.
Al-Akbar, headed by one of the most senior imams in Nelson Mandela Bay, has a 40-year track record in the region and is therefore trusted by the community.
Raban explained that in accordance with the tenets of Islamic law, Muslims were only allowed to consume food and drink permitted for consumption.
“It is a significant sin for Muslims to eat or drink anything that is non-Halal or impure. We strive to consume foods that are halal to fulfil the religious legal requirements of Islam.”
He thanked the halal authority and imam Behardien Jappie on behalf of the community for providing the certification service in the province.
SPAR EC senior retail operations manager Wayne van Wyngaardt confirmed that the certifier had initially withdrawn the certificate on January 4.
“That withdrawal created a frenzy on social media but all concerns were resolved in a meeting with the Muslim authorities,” explained Van Wyngaardt.
“A communication channel was established and the certification renewed and returned.”