Eight hujaaj discovered their passports were rejected and have not been able to board their flight to depart for haj on Monday. The chairperson of the South African Travel Haj and Umrah Association (Sathoa), Sedick Steenkamp said this is due to the barcodes on the passports which could not be read. Numerous problems have been experienced as a result of a new system which the Saudi Hajj Ministry has implemented.
Those eight individuals are currently at the Saudi Embassy in Pretoria, settling the matter. Steenkamp said he hopes it will be resolved immediately.
Meanwhile, over 20 foreign nationals in the country who are married to South Africans have also been rejected amid boarding the plane for haj. According to Steenkamp, this too is as a result of the new rules by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Embassy is also addressing this matter directly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as South Africans have just been informed of the new rule recently. In total, 29 individuals are awaiting their new barcoded passports for access to the Kingdom.
“The system apparently only accepts South African passports which means we are unable to print the actual visas. We have asked the Embassy to contact the Ministry on this matter urgently,” Steenkamp added.
“If these foreign nationals will not be given access to the Saudi Kingdom then we will have to inform the public as we as South Africans are required to follow the rules and regulations of the Saudi government.” VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)