From the news desk

HW holds public meeting

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Local haj advocacy group Hajj Watch has called on the community to attend a public meeting aimed at educating hujjaj and mu’tamireen about their rights in the haj and umrah industry. The meeting will be held on Friday 7 February at the Taronga Road masjid in Rondebosch East at 8pm. Hajj Watch has been vociferous in its calls for the haj and umrah industry to be properly regulated. Hajj Watch spokesperson Jakes Rawat said there is no organisation offering consumer protection in the haj and umrah industry and some travel operators are able to get away with “ripping off” local hujjaj.

However, with the public meeting, Hajj Watch is hoping to provide mu’ta’mireen with the necessary information they need to ensure their safety and protection.

Rawat explained that since the latest umrah debacle has become public knowledge, they have embarked on in an attempt to get money refunded to the affected mu’tamireen. The meeting was held to prevent such issues from arising.

According to Rawat, there has been very little to no follow up of investigations after the watchdog presented its findings to the necessary parties.

“Since the inception of the local haj and umrah industry, no travel operator has been brought to book. We need to educate the consumers…they need to know what they can do to not fall in the situation so many umrah pilgrims find themselves in today,” Rawat added.

The blacklist which the advocacy group aims to establish will act as a transparent record of travel regulators and operators who have been irresponsible with pilgrims’ monies or travel arrangements and as a result have caused grave financial losses for many.

With the help of the community, the list can be drawn up but only once extensive investigations into the dealings between travel operators and mu’tamireen have been thoroughly researched.

“We need to put measures in place where consumers can feel safe and protected. If the mu’tamireen are educated and informed of their rights, they hold the money and they have the power to influence much needed change within the current state of the industry,” said Rawat. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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