Durban’s Muslim community on social media is angry about the opening of an RJ’s steakhouse franchise which has a halaal and non-halaal section side by side.
Some have labelled the move as “misleading” because the non-halaal section served pork and alcohol near the halaal section.
Some social media users have called on the Muslim community to boycott The Halaal Foundation of South Africa (HFSA), which certified the beachfront establishment at the Durban Spa Hotel.
The halaal section of RJs officially opened to patrons on Friday.
On the Durban Muslims Facebook page last week, a debate surrounding the establishment was started by admin Mohammed Mall regarding the eatery.
In a post which was widely shared, Mall wrote: “Open a store on the same premises and make it halaal, separate it by using ‘screens’ to have a halaal and haraam section.
“The store, which was still being set up, was certified halaal and Muslims were led to believe this store is halaal? We are outraged by the misuse of halaal certification and need answers.
“The Muslim community is outraged, and rightfully so. If we cannot trust our own aalims (scholars), who do we turn to for guidance?” wrote Mall.
He condemned the set-up of the eatery, saying that prayer facilities would be available while alcohol and pork would be consumed on the same premises. He also highlighted that the practice of having the same restaurant with a halaal and haraam section was unheard of and called for the HFSA to provide answers.
The HFSA said the restaurant was to run as two separate entities, each with its own kitchens, utensils, halaal-branded merchandise, stock and staff.
Nawshaadh Khan, the president of the HFSA, said the body would not certify a place as halaal without doing proper inspections and without the requirements being met. He invited the public to visit the establishment and view the set-up for themselves. He confirmed that the halaal section was Muslim-owned.
“In this case, we asked them to provide pardah (closed) seating facilities, we demarcated the area and everything is marked clearly. We would never certify a place that serves pork and alcohol. This is a similar set-up to what you would have in a mall’s eating area where there are both halaal and non-halaal stores next to each other,” said Khan.
He said some people had visited the place and were happy with the set-up, and assured the public that no contamination would occur as separate utensils were used.
“The halaal section has its own halaal-marked utensils and the kitchen is completely separate,” said Khan.
RJ’s KZN franchise manager Chucky Potgieter said a survey was conducted at Durban Spa to assess the clientele who supported the establishment.
“This revealed that more than 40% of holidaymakers who came to stay there were Muslim, so the idea of catering for this market was introduced,” said Potgieter.
He said many patrons had already visited the restaurant and were happy with the operations.