By Yaseen Kippie
Following questions surrounding the exclusion of Al-Anwar Express from the list of accredited operators for Hajj 1439/2018, the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) first deputy president Shaheen Essop has denied that SAHUC had a role in Al-Anwar Express’ exclusion and clarified the criteria for Hajj accreditation.
Essop said every applicant for accreditation “necessarily has to follow a prescribed set of requirements. Applicants were provided with this information prior to their application and prior to the closing of our application process, the 22nd December 2017 at 17h00.
There are 13 minimum requirements that every applicant must ascribe with, which then goes through a process of review with SAHUC’s national Hajj operator accreditation committee.
“We make sure people understand there has to be a company in place. We do not accredit anybody operating from their kitchen table.”
Of the requirements, there should be no issues pending from the previous Hajj, and the applicant should have the necessary experience to take Hujjaj over to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Al-Anwar Express had been informed this.
In September/October, SAHUC provided Al-Anwar with a violation raised by the Muassasa (Field office 21). This was not cleared by closing date. Essop says SAHUC’s exclusion was “also based on other matters that were pending between them and Hujjaj.”
According to Essop, SAHUC Head of Mission Ismail Coovadia , whose task it was to get documentation of any violations picked up by the Muassasa, received the violation in September or October before leaving the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and then translated it into English, sending both the Arabic and English translation to the operators who had violated the Hajj rules and regulations. Al-Anwar Express was one of four operators who had violations pending, but were the only operator not to clear their issue before the December 22nd deadline.
Essop denied SAHUC sent the complaint to the Jamarat committee, in contrast to Al-Anwar’s Moulana Abdurahman Laily’s allegation. Essop says he “finds it demeaning that an operator can come to SAHUC expecting accreditation, but vilify us like this.” Moulana Laily was, however, not without praise of SAHUC, but felt the accreditation was unwarranted.
The pelting times given by the Muassasa was, according to Essop, duly relayed to the operators via email, which Al-Anwar had not disagreed with.
“SAHUC does not thumb-suck the times. Al-Anwar Express is in possession of all the emails we sent to all the operators,” Essop remarked.
When asked about how SAHUC deals with differences of opinion in Fiqh of pelting the Jamarat, Essop said: they “make sure everyone is included, but we are still bound by protocal agreement signed by Hajj affiliations, which we disseminate to the Hajj operators, and they are expected to abide with that.”
Essop defended SAHUC’s authority by saying Hajj operators “do not have a right to operate…its given to them as a privilege.”
Meanwhile, questions are being raised of authority within Al-Anwar Express, after a press released was released on Wednesday 31st January 2018, of an apology by Al-Anwar Express Director Imam M Y Pandy.
Take a listen to VOC’s interview with Shaheen Essop: