The South African Hajj and Umrah Council has released its audited financial statements for 2019-2020, which shows it has a surplus of over R5 million. This is an increase of R465 000 compared to last year. Sahuc’s financial income, until March 2020, was released during its annual general meeting held in Johannesburg on Sunday.
However, after raised-eyebrows from the public, SAHUC President Shaheen Essop cleared the air and ensured the Muslim community that the surplus is to ensure service delivery to the highest level.
“We have critique coming through all the time not only after we release our financial statement, but at the end of the day it certainly proves prudent process within our structures and at the end of it all one needs to take into account longevity of an organization. We certainly can’t have an organization living from hand to mouth,” explained Essop.
“The money has come from shariah complaint investments with money that’s been stagnant and a reasonable quota increase over the last two years,” continued Essop.
Essop said no matter who said what the council has never kept pilgrims in the dark where monies are concerned.
“Most importantly we have allowed for transparency so that we can keep the public abreast with all the ongoing process within council,” said Essop.
However, the monetary figures do not account for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of Hajj.
“It certainly is apparent that the virus has adversely affected and impacted everything and everyone whether it be the pilgrim, sahuc or the hajj operator and it is all evident in terms of processors,” stated Essop.
In a statement, Essop said they were thankful for the understanding of pilgrims and the assistance of all role payers during this critical time of the cancellation of hajj.
“The unfortunate thing is we can’t get away from expenses because we run offices and we manage Sahuc and as a result, those expenses cannot be done away with. There has been an increase in expenditure but that is purely for the benefit of the pilgrim and for no other purpose,” stated Essop.
He said the majority of hujjaj have been refunded to date.
“We are transparent in everything that we do that is why we publicize our financial statement and I think it’s prudent to say that we have nothing to hide,” stated Essop.
On the issue of umrah only allowed to those between the ages of 18-65, the pilgrim needs to understand “if you are invited into someone’s home as a guest you basically have to abide by their processes and their rules an in the same way the Saudi Kingdom has put into place certain structures that need to be followed,” ended Essop.