Repatriated Muslims say diet at Joburg quarantine site is anti-religion

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Johannesburg – An uproar has erupted over food being served at a Joburg quarantine site housing more than 103 repatriated South Africans.

Muslim South Africans brought back  from Pakistan have complained about  what they termed the lack of consideration for their religion, after being served
The group landed back in South  Africa on Thursday and have been  placed in the “chaotic” quarantine site  at Emperors Palace Peermont Metcourt  and Mondior Hotel, east of Joburg.
The group of 103 people complained  of food poisoning, despite handing over  an extensive food-restrictions list to  authorities.
Muslims abstain from eating pork  products and only eat halaal food. They  are currently observing and fasting for  Ramadaan. Those who are fasting only
eat before sunrise and after sunset.
Sajidah Manzoor, who helped co-ordinate the group’s return from the south  Asian country and whose husband is at  the quarantine site, said they asked the  facility to supply meals for those fasting  at 4.30am, and for those not fasting,  mostly children, at about 7.30am.
“The people couldn’t eat their supper  on Friday. It was completely off. It was  some type of lentil meal. Most people  just left it outside their rooms,” Manzoor
As a result of the meal, she said,  seven of the guests became ill.
Her husband Saif had been in Pakistan visiting family when the government closed the borders.  She had asked him to bring noodles  and snacks back home. And this, she  said, came to the rescue of the people  held at the hotel.
“I asked him to bring a lot of snacks  and noodles from Pakistan. I didn’t  know they would help them. He distributed that among the children.
“When we tried speaking to the  hotel management, we got no joy. On  Saturday, they received the evening meal  but most of it was unpalatable.
“Some people started complaining  of diarrhoea.
“The meals are extremely small  potions, it’s like aeroplane food… More  like snacking,” she said.
The last straw was on Sunday when at  sunrise they were served bacon.
“I have personally made up this list  with each person’s room number and  what meal they want. The people who  were supposed to get the halaal or vegetable meal got bacon for breakfast.
“One or two of them were unaware  of this and ate it. That is totally unacceptable. We need urgent intervention,”  Manzoor said.
The Peermont Metcourt and Mondior spokesperson Julie van Wyk said  they partnered with the Department of  Health to provide the quarantine sites.
“All meals comply with the menu  specifications as set out by the Department of Health. The Department of  Health has signed off on the off-site  food supplier, including an accredited  halaal supplier.
“The menu provides a selection of  proteins both for normal diets, vegetarian, vegan… With starch and vegetable options and in line with the daily  dietary calorie-intake requirements for  adults that will not be active due to  being confined to their rooms.
“Gluten and lactose-free meals are  catered for those guests who request it.  Times for catering have been amended  to accommodate Muslim guests.”
She said guests are not permitted to  leave their rooms, in line with quarantine requirements.
“Should a guest return a positive test  for Covid-19, they will be safely moved  to another facility for appropriate medical attention,” Van Wyk said.
So far, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation  (Dirco) has facilitated the repatriation  of over 3 400 South Africans stranded  abroad since the start of the national  lockdown in March.
It is unclear which government  department is responsible for the Kempton Park site.
Dirco said they only deal with the  repatriation of people to the country  and the other departments take over  once they land.
Public Works spokesperson Zara  Nicholson said: “We’re not responsible  for operations inside quarantine sites.  That’s under the Health Department and  the management at a particular site.”
National Health spokesperson Popo  Molefe referred questions to the Gauteng health department, whose spokesperson Kwara Kekana said they only run
four quarantine sites: Eskom, Transnet,  Telkom and Nasrec. She said the Emperor’s Palace didn’t fall under them.

The Star

By Tebogo Monama


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