Muslims in Cape Town, South Africa are furious after a video leaked showing workers at Orion Cold Storage Company labelling meat products, among them pork, as Halaal.
Muslim companies have since obtained a court order banning the company from using the halaal label.
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) provides Halaal certification to Orion’s meat products.
In a scandal that has seen the company’s Managing Director Patrick Gaertner reportedly receiving death threats since the allegations surfaced, has seen a rare unity between the MJC and South Africa National Halaal Authority (SANHA) who are both fighting Orion at the court from the same front.
The Orion head denies any wrong doing and says he was a victim of a smear campaign by rival businesses. He has in turn laid charges of sabotage, blackmail and extortion against two undisclosed rival businessmen.
In a press release issued by National Consumer Forum and was published on SANHA’a website, Orion is among other things accused of: –
– Importing water buffalo meat from India and selling it as AB/B Grade beef.
– Importing pig hearts from Belgium and Ireland and re-labelling it and selling it as sheep or beef hearts with a Halaal label.
– Importing poultry from Spain and re-labelling it as Halaal when it is not.
– Importing kangaroo meat from Australia and re-labelling it as chuck and blade beef cut.
– Removing labels of expired poultry products and re-labelling these products with new expiry dates.
– Importing non-food grade milk powder for animal feed and re-labelling it as Halaal skim milk powder.
The Muslim Judicial Council has however vehemently denied that it certifies all the halaal marked products of the company. Sheikh Achmet Sedick MJC’s deputy president told the Channel Islam International (Cii) that his organisation has never certified Orion’s Cape Town facility as Halaal but has “what we call a consignment basis agreement.”
“MJC would certify the consignment that would come in. They would request from us that when the consignment comes in, that we need to clear it.” explained Sheikh Sedick.
Meanwhile, Moulana Mohammed Saeed Navlakhi of SANHA told Cii that the leaked video formed the basis for the entire court proceedings. He said that the entire search and seizure order was granted by a judge based on the (video) evidence.
“These video images are real. They are of his premises. The staff that are seen in there are staff that work for him.” he said.
Moulana Navlinki further went on to reveal that they have another evidence of Orion’s fraudulent activities:
“We have also got a sample of a product that was supplied to Vision Meats in Klerksdorp by Orion Cold Storage that was taken for DNA analysis and analysed and found not to be that of veal or sheep but that of pork origin,” he added.
Furthermore, George Southey of the Red Meat Industry Forum (RMIF) and the SA Meat industry Company (SAMIC) said an informant had told him Orion sold animal feed dairy Ingredients to CJP Chemicals – which supplies Tiger Brands and Johnson and Johnson. Animal feed ingredients were cheap to import, but the product was not halaal and unfit for human consumption, he said. In court papers, the applicants say the halaal labels were forgeries designed by Patrick Gaertner, the Managing Director of Orion Cold Storage.
However, Mr Gaertner still maintains his company’s innocence and went on to say that the court application was based on a hearsay of a business associate of Orion and eluded to a possible use of the video as a means of blackmail against his company.
He alleges that his rivals paid some of his employees to switch products and labels before being loaded into trucks.
“Unequivocally, we deny that (video) footage, yet some footage was taken in our warehouse.” Gaertner argued.
Orion Cold Storage Company has no abbattoir but imports and supplies over 1,000 tons of meat to the South African market monthly.
Additional reporting by Hasiem Amanzi Sinoya