Correspondence Related to Desert Farms Zamli Dates


On 03 Jun 2016, Johannes VAN DER WALT <> wrote:

Dear Ms Kekana,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Desert Fruit has no commercial obligation to sell its dates to anyone – be it a person, company, country or religion. It is sold to the highest bidder.

We strive to produce the best dates in the world, which include Medjoul, Barhi, Khalas, Dahan and Zamli. I believe that we were the only producer to plant the latter out side of the Middle-East until recently (India started planting Zamli a couple of years ago).

I hope this clarifies the matter




On 03 Jun 2016, Kwara Kekana <> wrote:

Dear Mr Johannes Van Der Walt and Mr Akhalwaya,
cc: Rustenburg PSF, Polokwane BD, PSA, Kimberly International Solidarity Forum, Wits PSC

Thanks so much for the response.

We note the grievances raised regarding the way that others have responded to this issue. We also acknowledge your welcoming of our route of making direct contact with yourselves to get clarity. We thank Mr Theba for having verbally confirmed that Desert Fruit did indeed in the past have trade relations with Israel. Mr Theba also claimed (though we require this in writing) that Desert Fruit no more has any relations with any Israeli entity.

This brings us to the question in our initial email which needs to be urgently answered (in writing). Can you kindly confirm: “That Desert Fruits does not have any trade or economic relationship with any Israeli company, cooperative or entity.” Mr Van Der Walt, if you can please confirm this ASAP that would be much appreciated and bring and end to this issue.

We are surprised that Mr Van Der Walt is responding to Mr Akhalwaya’s email approving the letter, may you or he respond to the question that we hereby repeat: Can you confirm: “That Desert Fruits does not have any trade or economic relationship with any Israeli company, cooperative or entity.”

A few years back Karsten Farms, a local South African supplier of dates, was the target of a successful consumer boycott due to its trade relations with an Israeli company, Hadiklaim. In January 2013 Karsten Farms provided a written undertaking via their lawyers indicating that they have terminated their relationship with Israel’s Hadiklaim and that they will also not enter into any future relations with any Israeli entity complicit in the illegal Israeli Occupation of Palestine. Karsten Farms and the move by Karsten Farms to end its Israeli relationship with Israel’s Hadiklaim was celebrated by human rights activists and communities across the aboard and brought an end to the boycott of that company. We humbly call on Desert Fruit to make a similar undertaking.

Finally, our organisation, the broader Palestine solidarity movement and most probably your consumers are a multi-faith constituency made up of Jews, Muslims, Christians and various others. While we do respect the right of all, we however must state categorically that this is not a Muslim issue as may be suggested. The violation of Palestinian human rights, through direct or indirect corporate complicity, is fundamentally a human rights issue and not a just religious one – and therefore our support for Palestine is on this basis, human rights.

Looking forward to hearing from you, and, based on your positive confirmation, putting this issue to rest.

Kwara Kekana

Ms Kwara Kekana




On 03 Jun 2016, Johannes VAN DER WALT <> wrote:

Looks fine . .



On 03 Jun 2016, Mahmood Akhalwaya <> wrote:

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatu,

I am writing to you in reply to a copy of an email you sent to Zayd Theba. I have read the email and to be honest am upset at the state our Ummah has degenerated to. Firstly let me state that this is not an attack on BDS and I welcome the opportunity, albeit under duress from external sources, to clarify the confusion.

I can confirm that Farhaad Akhalwaya, Zayd Theba and Jabir Mia did in fact personally visit the farm producing the dates in question. Their visit included personal discussions with the director of the farm, Mr Johannes van der Walt. The farm does not have Israeli investors.

While I appreciate the efforts and the sentiment behind not supporting the Israeli state financially I cannot make sense of the Muslims who choose this slanderous route to apply and or enforce this ideology. As a fellow Muslim I understand the solidarity and empathise with the Palestinians and the nature of the involvement of Muslims in this cause. However we as Muslims must also bear in mind the gravity and severity of backbiting and slander in Islam. This issue has been an ongoing issue for many years and has as usual been brought to its annual Ramadan peak. My issue is with the lack of proof these accusatory voices choose to operate with. Hearsay is not proof of misconduct, it is an accusation without proof. It is a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report.

Heading into the holy month of Ramadan we should be cognisant of the fact that we undertake to perform or increase the practicing of virtuous deeds. Do we then not have the inclination to avoid this scar on our books?
Mr Johannes van der Walt is currently exporting these dates to Europe at a price of seven Euros per kilogram FOB the farm, this equates to one hundred and twenty one Rand per kilogram. Allah SWT has showered his mercy upon us by softening Mr Johannes van der Walt’s heart and availed these dates at a fraction of that cost to us. Is this the gratitude we display?

Ironically the people of Moosa AS also displayed this ingratitude to Allah SWT, the very same people of whom a boycott is being called for. Imagine if you will the effect of this ingratitude upon the non-Muslims. They do not need to have their generosity flung back at them. It is incumbent on us to show them that we are honourable and that there is benefit in dealing directly with us. A means to an end if you will, for they will then loosen the stronghold that Israel flexes on the global economy. We are in need of allies not enemies.

As I have said above, this is not an attack on BDS instead consider it as an advisory open letter and confirmation of the origin of the dates. In the interest of full disclosure I will be issuing this release to several agencies who have put forward similar enquiries.

Mr Johannes van der Walt is travelling at the moment and will respond as soon as he is able to. Should you require more info please do not hesitate to contact me.

My email address:

Yours Sincerely

Mahmood Akhalwaya
E. Akhalwaya & Sons
13 Central Road, Fordsburg,
Johannesburg, 2092, South Africa
Tel: +27-118331068
Fax: +27-118381315



On 03 Jun 2016, Muhammed Desai <> wrote:

Salaam Zayd,

I just got a call from [Radio] Islam, the journalist mentioned that Farhad Akhalwaya is trying to get hold of BDS SA?

As discussed, if we can please get your response to the email below we can then issue a statement and move forward as we are inundated by queries from media and members of the community.



On 02 Jun 2016, Muhammed Desai <> wrote:

Dear Zayd, Asalaam Úalaikum,

As discussed briefly over the phone, the Palestine solidarity organisation BDS South Africa ( (a local branch of the international BDS movement) together with our partner organisations have been inundated with phone calls, emails and messages querying the Zamli Dates currently being sold in SA.

One of the allegations is that the supplier of the Zamli dates has relations with Israel. As you are aware this would be a violation of the international BDS boycott of Israel called for by Palestinians in 2005 (

Even though there have been various media queries and questions from members of the public, we refrained from issuing any public directive or statement based on speculation until we ascertained the correct facts, including speaking with yourselves directly.

Given the above can you please confirm the following:

1. That yourself together with brother Farhad Akhalwaya and Brother Mia visited Desert Fruits and facilitated the importing from Namibia of the Zamli dates in question.

2. That Desert Fruits does not have any trade or economic relationship with any Israeli company, cooperative or entity. If this is the case, would the you and the company (Desert Fruits) be able to confirm this in writing?

If the above is indeed correct and confirmed in writing then we can undertake to immediately issue a public statement and use all our platforms – radio stations, tv, email, sms etc. to communicate to our structures and communities that the Zamli Dates currently being imported do not fall within the boycott criteria.

We would like to resolve this as soon as possible as there is a lot of increasing possible mis-information.