With the haj accreditation process completed and the full quota filled, the president of the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) Shaheen Essop says operators will now embark on the back end work for Haj 1435. Speaking to VOC’s Breakfast Beat on Friday, Essop said much of the focus of operators would now switch to the preparations, specifically relating to contracting within the Saudi Kingdom itself.
“The operators in the next two to three weeks will go over to sign the contracts and conclude what they need to, in order for us to have the validity of visas issued in their (hujaaj) passports,” he said.
With the country having received a meagre visa quota of 2000 by the Saudi Haj Ministry, Essop noted the quota would not be filled entirely with hujaaj. Sahuc will have to dig into the number for some of the workers visas for haj operators.
“The process is now that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wants haj visas to be issued to the haj operators and their workers. We are not getting any additional (visas) from the Saudi Embassy,” he said.
The visa applications process would not involve the use of the biometric fingerprint testing, despite earlier reports the process would switch to the new system. He expressed doubt over when the system would actually be implemented by the Saudi Embassy.
“I was there about two weeks ago and they’ve not had any indications about when that biometric testing will start. At this particular point in time it’s just the visas as normal, but no biometrics that is being done here in South Africa,” he said.
Essop concluded that Sahuc were expecting the first group of hujaaj to depart South Africa for the Kingdom on the 1st of Dhu al-Qi’dah during the final week of August. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)