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Bulk of hujjaj departed

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The majority of hujjaj in Cape Town have already left for the Saudi Kingdom, with only 40 individuals yet to depart for the annual haj pilgrimage. This is according to the chairperson of the South African Travel and Haj Operators Association (Sathoa), Sedick Steenkamp.

Speaking to VOC’s Talking Point, Steenkamp said the majority of hujjaj travelled within the first week of departures. He noted that half of the remaining pilgrims were expected to depart on Saturday 13thSeptember.

He described the overall conduct of the hujjaj as extremely exemplary, noting only minor issues such as people pitching up at the airport with overweight cases, as well as those trying to travel with more than 100mls of liquids in their handbags. He urged the remaining hujjaj to adhere to such basic airline protocols.

“For the people that remain, we remind them that the airlines are normally asking for cases not to be more than 23kgs per case. Also make sure you don’t put liquids that are more than 100mls in your handbag, because it will be confiscated,” he said.

With many of the hujjaj having departed on early morning flights, Steenkamp acknowledged there had been somewhat of a decline in airport congestion, often caused by family members seeking to give their final greetings to the departing hujjaj.

“Had that been during normal business hours, we would have had to people don’t block the pathways for normal passengers to walk through,” he said.

Although many airlines travelling from Jeddah to South Africa provide free weight of between 5L to 10L for those seeking to leave with bottles of Zam Zam water, Steenkamp warned that hujjaj would not be afforded the same with any of the local airlines. He also noted that the bottles would likely constitute as an extra article of luggage.

“We say to people that make sure when you have three pieces, your third piece should count as overweight and that you have enough money to pay for that,” he said.

Steenkamp also addressed the issue of those who experienced problems with the Boland Haj Jamaah, noting that all affected hujjaj had departed as scheduled on the 1st September, with the assistance of Sathoa and the South African Haj and Umrah Council (Sahuc).

“They are in Madina at the moment and they are leaving for Makkah on Thursday. I have spoken to the people, and they are all very happy and there are absolutely no issues,” he stressed. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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