The South African Hajj and Umarah Council (SAHUC) has confirmed that the number of Umrah passengers who were unable to board a plane from Jeddah to Johannesburg at the weekend stands at forty-four and not sixty as stated in earlier reports.
Although the matter has been resolved and the mutamireen have been confirmed to return home by Friday, questions around why in fact the flight tickets had been cancelled by the Saudi Arabian Airlines have been posed by concerned members of the community.
According to SAHUC President, Shaheen Essop the tour operator of the mutamireen, now identified as a Rasool Travel and Tours, met all the necessary payments and obligations ahead of time, therefore the fault was not with the travel agency.
“I have asked Saudi Airlines for some feedback but their investigation is still ongoing at this point,” Essop continued.
SA COULD SEE AN INCREASE IN ITS HAJJ QUOTA
Meanwhile, renovations in the Saudi Kingdom are set to continue for another eighteen months to two years before the haram is complete. Essop explained that press statements in the Kingdom state that the current temporary tawaf facility will be removed around the Kabah at the end of January.
“Currently, the mataf can accommodate between 20 000 to 40 000 pilgrims per hour making tawaf. Once renovations are completed on all the floors, it will be able to accommodate 100 000 pilgrims per hour, Essop further added.
Essop says that the possibility of an increase in South Africa’s quota could be looming.
“We are hoping that with this improvement of increased capacity, we could possibly get back the five hundred taken off from our quota with an additional increase. That we will only know once the Ministry releases the protocol to South Africa,” Essop said.
Meanwhile, the number of South African registered and awaiting their chance to embark on the journey stands at 26 000 people and growing. VOC (Raeesah Isaacs)