From the news desk

Pilgrims receive a delightful welcome from their family members at the Cape Town International Airport

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By Kouthar Sambo

Heartwarming scenes played out as Hujaaj (pilgrims) received a delightful welcome from their family members and travel operators upon their arrival today at the Cape Town International Airport.

Giving you insight into the atmosphere, VOC News was on the ground to capture the special moments as little ones run to their parents while families reconnect over tight embraces.

Speaking on VOC’s PM Drive on Thursday, a representative of the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC), Shaheen Essop, said there was a split group of Hujaaj that arrived in Cape Town after 5 pm, while the other group in Johannesburg also arrived.

“SAHUC has three centers of arrivals, mainly Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg, and so far, the arrivals have been going well.”

However, some Hujaaj raised concerns, alleging that their flights were split, resulting in them being separated from their spouses and family members. Essop told VOC News the matter was a “logistical issue.”

“The operator arrived at the airport last night when pilgrims were unable to board their flight out of Jeddah. Some pilgrims had to be housed in Jeddah for the duration of today as they are only flying out tomorrow,” said Essop.

“This situation resulted in the splitting of flights between spouses and families. The operator would have to take it up with the booking agent they did their tickets with,” clarified Essop.

According to Essop, the process went smoothly overall, regardless of the hiccups. He added that SAHUC will continue to embrace technology and make the lives of prospective pilgrims easier.

“The public face of SAHUC’s system and database is being maintained, and while SAHUC introduced the digital platform in 2009, it has undergone upgrades to accommodate Hujaaj but also aligns with the technical needs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

“Soon, we will open up the next queue online so people can see where they are in the queue, allowing SAHUC to spark the procedures for the next season. SAHUC will also make the announcement regarding information received from the Kingdom in Saudi Arabia, where the quota is concerned,” explained Essop.

According to Khidmatul Awaam, 672 Hujaaj were expected to arrive back home on a national level. The Regional Director of Khidmatul Awaam, Farahnaz Abrahams, said a group of Hujaaj arrived in the morning on Thursday.

“Alhamdulillah (praise be to God), the agency has been fortunate to have all of its 202 Hujaaj from Cape Town arriving over a couple of days, and they are back at home with their beautiful families. Approximately five Hujaaj arrived at the Cape Town International Airport, and this was the last of our Hujaaj,” she added.

Photo: VOCfm

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