More than two months has lapsed since mu’tamireen were scheduled to perform umrah with Al Mujaahiedeen, but the aggrieved pilgrims have not received a cent of the money owed to them.
One of the 32 mu’tamireen, who was scheduled to travel at the end of December last year, Rogaya Hendricks said the mu’tamireen agreed to meet with the founding member of the operator, Imam Isgaak Cassim on 3 March, but were informed by Cassim’s daughter on the morning of their planned meeting that he was ill and unable to attend the meeting.
“The people were quite outraged, because we are so tired of waiting for our money and we all said ‘well you can be sick, but transfers can still happen’,” she stated.
Hendricks said the 32 mu’tamireen were requested to wait a further two weeks for payment.
Cassim had previously indicated that he will sell the family home to fund the repayment of the pilgrims. Hendricks said the house is being sold for R850 000.
While Cassim previously mentioned that he owes the mu’tamireen a total of R324 000, Hendricks places the amount in the region of R550 000.
The now defunct operator owes Hendricks and her family R144 000, after the family of ten booked only their flights with Al Mujaahiedeen.
“Just our tickets we purchased, which was ten tickets at R9 800 and it came to more or less R98 000. When we had to repurchase our tickets we had to book one leg with Emirates [Airlines] and Ethiopian Airlines, because there were no available flights. So, in total it came to R14 000 and odd per person and R144 000 in total – we had to folk out extra.
“There is no definite confirmation, but if we add-up amongst ourselves it’s about R550 000. For some people, it’s just for flights, like [my family] – ten people just for flights. And for other people [they are owed money] for flights, hotel accommodation and visas.”
Hendricks said clarity about the use of the funds is yet to be provided to the now disgruntled mu’tamireen.
“I asked him up until the last, but we were told that he does not have to say what [the money] was used for. So, up until today we don’t know what our money was used for or even when we are going to get it,” Hendricks asserted.
Listen: VOC reporter Thakira Desai previously spoke to the president of the South African Travel and Haj Operators Association (SATHOA), Adam Jainodien, who discussed a scheduled meeting between SATHOA, the operator, and affected mu’tamireen.
She said she no longer trusts umrah operators to ensure a hassle-free spiritual journey and will in future personally arrange the logistics of her travels.
“These people must be exposed really, because it’s not right,” said an incensed Hendricks.
Upon request for comment from Imam Isgaak Cassim, VOC News was informed that the chairperson of the South African Travel and Haj Operators Association (SATHOA) , Adam Jainodien, is responsible for liaising with media on the matter.
Response from Adam Jainodien to follow.