The South African Hajj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) are planning to levy a charge sheet against the Boland Hajj Jamah for being in contravention of the organizations code of conduct. This relates to the Hajj operators failure to honor its agreement with 20 Hujaaj, who had paid for their trips in full. The affected Hujaaj have since laid charges against the tour operator, Ebrahim Jooste, who was arrested on Sunday.
Despite receiving all relevant monies from the Hujaaj, the Boland Hajj Jamah were unable to meet the minimum number of 50 pilgrims required of each operator, as stipulated by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj. As a result, they were forced to merge with a Johannesburg based operator, Booleys Hajj Jamah. However, it has been alleged that they have yet to pay a substantial percentage of the pilgrim’s monies towards the Booleys Hajj Jamaah.
According to Sahuc president, Shaheen Essop, Sahuc and the South African Travel and Hajj Operators Association (Sathoa) had chosen to step in on the matter and provide an alternative solution for the 20 Hujaaj. He noted the proposal had been accepted by the affected individuals, who had all departed for the Saudi Kingdom on the 1st September.
“All the affected Hujaaj from the Boland Hajj Jamaah that got absorbed into the Booleys Hajj Jamaah, who have indicated they will be performing their Hajj, will be departing timeously for their pilgrimage,” he said.
As far as the investigation was concerned, Essop noted they had suspended the Boland Hajj Jamaah as an accredited tour operator, with a charge sheet likely to be levied against them.
The issue is not the first to plague this year’s Hajj pilgrimage, with Essop acknowledging that a number of problems had emanated from the Saudi Kingdom surrounding the issuance of visas. At present, 36 passports have yet to be issued with visas due to an internal glitch at the Saudi Ministry of Hajj.
“It relates specifically to people with foreign passports. Basically naturalized South Africans living in the country with foreign passports,” he said.
However, he insisted Sahuc were in close contact with authorities to ensure all the necessary problems were being resolved. He said he was expecting a response from the Saudi Embassy within the coming days.
Essop also noted that Sahuc’s own operation in the kingdom were going well, with clinics having been set up in both Medina and Makkah, and teams stationed at both the Medina International and Jeddah International airports.
“So everywhere you go you will see a Sahuc face, in order to make sure your trip is going to be without any anxieties,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)