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Mu’tamireen stranded in Makkah: Organizer denies theft allegations, cites misjudgement

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By Ragheema Mclean

Following allegations that more than several pilgrims were left stranded in Saudi Arabia after embarking on Umrah, the person responsible for managing the finances of the trip, Abdullahtief Ariefdien, has denied allegations of theft, attributing the financial shortfall to misjudgement.

VOC News recently reported that more than 30 Mu’tamireen (pilgrims) were left stranded in Saudi Arabia after embarking on a trip to the holy lands during the month of Ramadan.

This comes after several Mu’tamireen raised grievances that they were deserted by the person who had arranged for their Umrah trip.

The group reportedly paid large sums for a package that included airfare, accommodation, visas, and transfers.

Advocate Shameemah Sallie Dollie, who has been working closely with some of the pilgrims, confirmed the incident, explaining, “Approximately 33 Mu’tamireen wanted to go for Umrah during the month of Ramadan and they then met up with a gentleman named Abdullahtief Ariefdien who gave them packages between the cost of R28k and R36k, which they paid into his wife’s account.”

Sallie Dollie noted, “Coming to Makkah, they discovered that no transfers had been arranged, and there was no accommodation booked for them.”

Speaking on VOC’s Ramadan AM, Ariefdien acknowledged and admitted that he was not an accredited travel operator.

He stated that the Umrah was initially planned for students at the Hafith school and some of the teachers, but additional individuals joined, causing complications.

However, Darul Uloom Islamic Center principal Moulana Wagied Ismail confirmed that only one student and one teacher at the Madrassah went on Umrah.

Areifdien claimed that despite efforts to raise funds, the group fell short and that additional funds were still needed to pay for the rest of the costs.

“Ek wil net clear maak en vir die mense se dat geld was nie gesteel nee [sic].”

“Ons het kos gekoop, os het twee events gehet om op te kom met die geld vir die tickets vir die studente. Maar toe dit kom by die tyd toe die tickets moet betaal gewies het die probleem begin [sic].”

“Som van die studente het nie al die geld betaal nie en toe het ons agter uit gehardloop. Toe moet os gebruik van die ander mense se geld om dit te cover [sic].”

“Ek het saam met die students se ouers gepraat, dat hulle moet geld in sit van os het nog tickets geld nodig om te betaal [sic].”

“Ons het in die rooi gehardloop. Met die laaste event het os ook in die rooi gehardloop. Ons het nie genoeg geld gemaak nie [sic].”

Commenting on the allegations that Mu’tamireen paid between R28,000 and R36,000 for packages, Ariefdien noted that this was untrue.

“It was not the package. Only two people paid R28,000 and two people paid R36,000 because they joined later. The places and seats were expensive, so they had to pay more.”

Meanwhile, regarding the use of his wife’s account, Ariefdien explained, “As a pensioner, I couldn’t use my account, so we agreed to use my wife’s separate account. She had no involvement in the operation.”

“She’s got nothing to do with this. My wife had no control over the account, this is why I told them if they want to open as case, they should just open the case against me and leave my wife because she has nothing to do with what happened.”

“I acknowledge that it my fault, I don’t blame anyone else. Some of the families were threatening me, that’s why I had to leave my house to secure my family.”

He added, “I want to ask maaf to everyone involved, this is my first attempt at taking people to Umrah, this is my first and last time that I will be doing this. It’s been a very expensive mistake.”

VOC News

Photo: Pexels 

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