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Mu’tamireen left stranded in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan after alleged travel operator scam

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By Ragheema Mclean

More than 30 Mu’tamireen (pilgrims) were left stranded in Saudi Arabia after embarking on a special Ramadan Umrah journey over the weekend.

The group reportedly paid between R28,000 and R36,000 per person to a travel operator for a package that included airfare, accommodation, visas, and transfers.

Speaking on VOC’s Ramadan AM on Wednesday, Advocate Shameemah Sallie Dollie confirmed the incident, stating that the Mu’tamireen had been deserted by the operator, who had disappeared after collecting the funds.

Sallie Dollie explained, “Approximately 33 Mu’tamireen wanted to go for Umrah during the month of Ramadan, they then met up with a travel operator who gave them packages between the cost of R28k and R36k, which they paid into his wife’s account.”

“They were also instructed to go and collect their own visas and that operator would meet up with them in Johannesburg.”

However, upon attempting to collect their visas, the Mu’tamireen were informed that the monies for visas were not fully paid, and there was an outstanding balance needed to be settled before the visas would be released.

“One of Mu’tamireen’s brothers then paid the balance, and when the operator failed to meet them in Johannesburg, they proceeded on the journey without him.”

Upon arriving in Makkah, they discovered that no transfers had been arranged, and there was no accommodation booked for them.

Fortunately, another travel operator, who was in Makkah at the time, stepped in to assist the stranded pilgrims. He helped secure accommodation for them in two separate lodgings and arranged for them to join his group for the journey to Madinah.

“He has been assisting them and they are all working with funds that they are putting together, currently sharing rooms with 7-8 people. He will also be assisting them with their transfer to Jeddah and their flight back home.”

She expressed, “The operator has not made any contact with them, nor has he assisted them with funds for accommodation.”

Salie Dollie said the Mu’tamireen have indicated that once they return home, they will take necessary steps to lay charges and have the matter investigated.  She added, “Both him and his wife will be initially charged and then the prosecutor will decide going further.”

“This is so sad; the people trusted this operator. He is a musalee, he is always in the Masjid, he is a community man but for this to happen in the holy month of Ramadan it is exceptionally heartbreaking.”

“We really need to educate our community not to blindly trust people when they plan to go to Umrah. We need to educate Hujaaj and Mutamireen out there. Be careful of the boetas out there.”

VOC News

Photo: Pexels

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