From the news desk

SATHOA’s credibility questioned after Al-Mujaahiedeen Umrah debacle


By Yaseen Kippie

One month has lapsed since 32 mu’tamireen, who were scheduled to travel with al-Mujaahiedeen for Umrah in late December 2017, were informed that payment on their flight tickets had defaulted. Adam Jainodien, president of the South African Travel and Haj Operators Association (SATHOA), informed VOC that they planned a meeting with the affected mu’tamireen and al-Mujaahiedeen on Saturday, 27 January 2018, to navigate the best way forward for all parties involved.

VOC spoke to Jainodien and affected mu’tamireen after the scheduled meeting. According to both parties, the meeting did not go well. For the mu’tamireen, it was primarily due to the fact that Jainodien had not actually attended the meeting, but sent SATHOA secretary general Muhsin Sheik instead.

Mr Isgaak Cassim, head of al-Mujaahiedeen, was present, but failed to address any details of the “operational issues” he says caused the tickets to be defaulted. He did, however, say that a benefactor will be sponsoring the refunds to the mu’tamireen, but that he is still waiting on confirmation of that, and that he will sell his family house, if necessary. According to Jainodien, the total debt owed by Cassim is well in excess of R324 000, a conservative estimation.

Rogaya Hendricks, one of the affected mu’tamireen, said the meeting was frustrating and fellow mu’tamireen were crying. She feels legal recourse is the only solution, a move supported by Adam Jainodien.

“We, as SATHOA, have come to the conclusion that people have exhausted all options of being patient, and legal means is the only way; to sue for damages,” Jainodien remarked.

Jainodien, however, feels mu’tamireen have become abusive, and some should be grateful that they did ended up going on umrah, albeit through a different route. Hendricks said the new tickets they had to purchase brought their total expense up from R98 000 to R144 000.

Throughout this debacle, questions have been raised of SATHOA’s complicity in the incident. Jainodien admitted that SATHOA does not have knowledge of financial specifics of any operators, but were aware that the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) denied Al-Mujaahiedeen accreditation for Hajj, due to monies being owed to hotels in Makkah. Jainodien hopes to make sure SATHOA is more informed of the financial well-being of operators in the future.

Despite the lack of operational requirements at SATHOA, Jainodien recommended people join them under a code of conduct to ensure members are compliant in the future. And despite Cassim being a former executive member of SATHOA, Jainodien says “SATHOA are people of integrity.”

Jainodien says he has no knowledge if al-Mujaahiedeen is trading under a new name, something SATHOA cannot ban altogether.

Rogaya Hendricks feels SATHOA and Al-Mujaahiedeen are not taking the mu’tamireen seriously.

“Selling his house should be the first resort, because this is people’s hard earned money. One lady cried for a week because this was all she had,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks echoed the calls by SAHUC Western Cape Chairperson, Shaykh Riad Fataar, that licensing for Umrah should be the mandate of SAHUC, to avoid corruption from taking place in the Umrah industry.

Take a listen to VOC’s interview with SATHOA President Adam Jainodien and affected Mu’tamira Rogaya Hendricks:


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