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No end in sight for Stakala case

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Umrah travellers accusing Cape Town businessman Shahied Stakala of fraud say they can no longer stand the constant postponement of court hearings and the lack of evidence from investigating officers. One affected umrah pilgrim, Anwar Mohan, who has been religiously attending all court hearings at both courts where complaints have been lodged against Stakala, says his frustration has reached boiling point after the case was once again postponed on Friday.

“I am extremely angry. The presiding judge almost wanted to throw the case out due to a lack of evidence,” Mohan said.

The case has been remanded to 13th February 2015 at the Mitchells Plain Magistrates Court. Meanwhile, Stakala is expected to appear on the 1st December 2014 at the Athlone Magistrates Court where mu’tamireen are hoping a final decision will be made for a set date at the Bellville Commercial Court. Hundreds of umrah pilgrims believe they were conned by Stakala, after they paid him thousands of rands for a umrah pilgrimage which did not materialise.

These pilgrims have hope that there is a better chance the case will reach finality at the commercial court where the state takes over cases exceeding R60 000.

Stakala has been accused of fraud and theft under false pretences. While he received bail at both courts, mu’tamireen believe the case had a better chance if he had stayed under police supervision at Pollsmoor Prison.

VOC has been following this case since December 2013, when the umrah pilgrims were due to depart. Stakala organises subsidised umrah packages through the Gaironiesa Foundation, a community organisation which aims to uplift the poor. Stakala said he allegedly transferred all the monies paid to him by the mu’tamireen to his service provide LamyTravel SA, for the purchasing of tickets and accommodation.

Lamy Travel members maintain they were not fully paid for the logistical arrangements earmarked for the trip. Most of the affected mu’tamireen have the receipts of payments along with signed agreements from Stakala.

Questions remain as to what happened to the money that went missing.

To date, more mut’amireen have come out, enquiring what legal steps they can take in order to get their money back from Stakala. However, Stakala has told both courts that he has no assets and no money.

He maintains his innocence and places blame on Lamy Travel. The travel agency is yet to be heard in court, along with mu’tamireen and other affiliates of Stakala.

As the accused did not maintain general admin book keeping on payments and transfers, investigating officers now have to follow the fine trail of bread crumbs to uncover any truth. Voc (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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