School tuck shop in hot water over halaal permit

The Windsor High School tuck shop.

Windsor High School has drawn flak for not immediately closing its tuck shop after it was found to have no halaal permit.

At the beginning of the year, the Rondebosch East school hired a new catering company to serve warm meals and snacks to pupils and staff.

According to Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokeswoman Bronagh Hammond, the school governing body awarded the tender.

“The vendor has two sites currently operating. The first site is halaal certified. He has also provided information stating where all meat products are purchased from,” she said.

While the caterer had a halaal certificate for a tuck shop at another school, he did not have one for Windsor High, although he had applied for one through the Muslim Judicial Council, she said.

According to Ms Hammond, Windsor High notified parents on Sunday April 16 that the tuck shop had no halaal certificate. However, a school letter seen by the Tatler claims the hot food at the tuck shop is “halaal friendly” and that the caterer has a halaal certificate for the other school tuck shop.

The Windsor High tuck shop serves beef burgers, chicken wraps, toasted chicken-mayo sandwiches, vetkoek and fries.

Zaakiyah Hartley, who has a son in Grade 9 at the school, said Windsor High should have addressed the matter at the beginning of the year.

She said she had initially heard from other parents that the tuck shop had no halaal certificate, and, in the middle of March, she had visited the tuck shop to buy a cooldrink there. Seeing no certificate in the window, she had asked the tuck-shop staff to produce one and they had been unable to do so.

Maryam Abdurahman, a shariah-compliance auditor for the Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust, said they had contacted the tuck-shop owner who had confirmed to them that he had no halaal certification for Windsor High.

Ms Hartley said that when she had raised the issue with principal Dianne Morgan at the end of March, urging her to notify parents immediately, Ms Morgan had told her that the governing body had appointed the tuck shop vendor.

She feels Ms Morgan, as leader of the school, should have done more to address the matter.

“This is a violation of our human rights,” she said.

When approached for comment, Ms Morgan referred the Tatler to the WCED.

Ms Hammond acknowledged that the school’s original advert for the tuck shop contract had not specifically asked for halaal certification.

“Going forward, with all tuck-shop contracts, certification will be asked for, and the school has apologised for the inconvenience caused,” she said.

Ms Hammond said parents were notified, on Monday May 1, that the tuck shop would sell no meat products – only hot chips and vetkoek – while it awaited halaal certification.

A school employee, who did not want to be named, said the tuck shop should have been closed immediately once it was learnt it had no halaal certificate. The matter was not only a Muslim issue but a human rights issue and the school was not handling it as such, the employee said. Another employee said the school leadership should have resolved the issue sooner.

Yuvir Naidoo, the owner of the catering company, Forever One Catering Services, said all concerns raised by the parents were warranted.

“We feel utterly remorseful for not having attained the certificate. We have made it our number one prerogative (sic) going forward.”

Mr Naidoo said they were committed to following all the Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust’s requirements to ensure they were fully compliant and they apologised profusely for the inconvenience caused.

The tuck shop serves beef burgers, chicken wraps, toasted chicken-mayo sandwiches, vetkoek and fries.