By Tamlynn Johannes

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) says there is no reason to overturn a decision made by the owners of Goudini Spa to deny a Muslim family a spa membership due to their religious beliefs.

HRC provincial co-ordinator Ashraf Mahomed said: "The Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuurvereniging (Afrikaans Language and Culture Association) subscribes to a certain set of values and beliefs which they base all their operations on."

"Since 2000 we've had complaints brought to our attention and have investigated the issues surrounding membership requirements."

"Our conclusion has been that there is no unfair discrimination taking place on the side of the ATKV and there has been no breach to the complainants' rights to equality."

Mahomed said that unless new facts come to light, all other complaints made against the organisation concerning membership and religion would be approached on the same basis.

"We will reconsider our findings if new facts arise that would compel us to change ATKV policy," he said.

ATKV owns many holiday resorts around the country, including spas in Hartenbos, Rustenburg, Natal and Limpopo. Those who have membership receive several perks, including discounts of up to 30 percent at the resorts and access to study loans.

However, in order to become a member, applicants have to follow the same biblical values as the ATKV does.

When Shahnaz and Ebrahim Christian from Bo-Kaap applied to the ATKV in August, they were denied membership because of their religion.

Ebrahim Christian said: "If culture and equality mean so much to them, then why are they denying other cultures to be a part of their group? Where's their religious tolerance?"

"They are hypocrites and should realise this is the new South Africa and everyone should be treated fairly. We treated unfairly because we believe in something they don't."

ATKV managing director Fritz Kok said: "We do not exclude other religious beliefs and cultures from participating in projects and festivals which we run throughout the year. Everyone is welcome."

"However, when it comes to applying for membership, we have to be united in our beliefs as we are the ones who formulate important policies on various issues."

Kok said the ATKV was founded in 1930 with Christian values at the core of its operations.

"We follow all our business dealings and other operations under the guidance of what the Bible says."

"Therefore we cannot have members of other faiths join - there would be conflict of beliefs," he said.