The South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) has issued a travel advisory warning people to be cautious when booking with New Heights travel. This follows a number of Umrah complaints against the company. Sahuc says the Mu’tamireen had booked and paid for their proposed umrah trip which did not materialise.
On the 18th October 2019, a letter by the company’s attorneys was circulated on social media to issue an apology for the delay in refunds to mu’tamireen. The letter stated that the delay is due to reasons “beyond our control”. Through its lawyers, the client undertook to refund clients within a 21-day period with the deadline set for the 20th November 2019.
“Our clients previously undertook to pay the refund within a period of 21 days. Such undertaking was premised on the period within which our client expected to receive the refund of the monies that they had paid to the hotels in Saudi Arabia. The refunds from Saudi Arabia have however not materialised due to administrative issues in Saudi Arabia,” stated the letter by attorney Mahmoud Mia.
At the time, VOC News had contacted both New Heights Travel and their attorneys to determine what circumstances had led to the current situation, but both parties declined to comment, saying the matter must follow a legal process.
“Since the 20th November 2019 has now passed and no refunds have been processed, we recommend Mu’tamireen to exercise caution when booking with the respective operator,” said Sahuc secretary-general Moaaz Casoo.
“We recommend that Mu’tamireen only book with the Ministry of Hajj accredited umrah operators.”
A list can be found on the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah website:
Due to the fact that Sahuc has no authority over the management of the umrah industry, very little can be done by the regulator. Umrah operators are self-regulated by the South African Travel Haj Association (Sathoa) and South Africa Muslim Travel Association (Samta).