The South African Haj Travel Operators Association (Sathoa) says it’s concerned about the number of elderly and frail hujjaj, who travel without the support of a relative. South African haj operators are facilitating the movement of hujjaj before the big days of haj. Whilst dealing with the extreme heat, the elderly pilgrims also have to contend with strenuous walking.
There have already been reports of two separate cases of South African elderly hujaj that had to go through hip replacements surgeries in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after suffering a fall on their journey. Sathoa president Adam Jainodien said these hujjaj were given the reassurances by doctors that they would be able complete their hajj.
“We need to investigate the number of hujjaj who perform the hajj at in their old age unassisted. It’s always advisable for them to come with a care giver to avoid any difficulties. We see beautiful scenes of sons helping their mothers throughout the journey, so it’s always a benefit to have a young person join their parent or grandparents,” said Jainodien.
This year’s Hajj will see over 2 million Muslims travel to Makkah and its surrounding areas to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. The first day of hajj is just over a week away and all systems should be in place come the 8th Dhul hijjah 1438 (30th August 2017).
South Africa was given a quota of 2450 hujaj this year by the Saudi government and Jainodien says 90 percent of South African hujjaj are now in the Kingdom.
“Most of the pilgrims are in Makkah and you can see by the activity and buzz in the holy city that everything is focused now towards preparations for hajj,” he added.
Jainodien said all groups are expected to be in Makkah already in preparation for the five days of hajj. With temperatures expected to be high in the holy city, he further noted weather conditions have been “bearable” with air conditioning everywhere. He still urged hujjaj not to spend much time in the hot sun. Hujjaj will be provided with a water cooler on the day of Arafah for hydration.
Cranes and scaffolding now overshadow the central skyline in Makkah, reminders that the city is undergoing a massive expansion to be able to accommodate the ever-increasing numbers of the annual pilgrims in the future. The physical, mental, spiritual and awareness of health and safety issues are vital to perform hajj in the best possible manner and much is expected from the authorities to make hajj safer for the old age. VOC