Hundreds of South African hujjaaj have been pouring back into the country over the past week, having participated in what Saudi authorities have described as the most successful haj in recent memory. 2000 South Africans have undertaken the holy pilgrimage this year.
By Monday evening, it is expected that roughly 1800 of the countries hujjaj will have arrived back in the country. According to South African Haj Travel Operators Association (Sathoa) president, Sedick Steenkamp, the bulk of the 600 pilgrims hailing from the Cape Town region will have also returned home.
“The Nujoomul Gharamyn Hajj Jamaah with the Dhuyufullah Hajj and Umrah Group will be arriving today. There are about 60 of them arriving this afternoon, at about 5pm,” he said.
Also expected to arrive are the 20 hujjaj who were scheduled to travel with the Boland Hajj Jamaah, before experiencing problems with the operator. Shortly before their departure, it emerged that the Boland Haj Jamaah were unable to honour its agreement with the hujjaj, who were subsequently forced to travel to the kingdom with the Gauteng-based Boolays Haj Jamaah.
“So in all we are expecting about 80 hujjaj this afternoon at 5pm, and another 10 later this evening,” he said.
The influx of hujjaj has been met with hundred of eager family hoping to great the pilgrims upon their arrival. In previous years this has caused some congestion at the country’s airports. But Steenkamp reported things were going well in this regard, with just a few blockages experienced at the domestic arrival terminals. Apart from that, they were yet to experience any major incidents.
“Of course when the hujjaj arrive there are always one or two people who are very eager and anxious to meet their family, but that is the norm. In terms of any issues at the airport, there’s been nothing really,” he said.
He also said they were yet to hear of any major complaints from hujjaj towards their operators, with Sathoa only receiving good news in that regard. However, pilgrims would be afforded a chance to voice their issues through a hajj complaints process within the coming months. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)