Gaironiesa Foundation director Shahied Stakala appeared before the Athlone Magistrates Court on Wednesday where the case was postponed to the 1st December 2014. According to the presiding judge, the matter will soon move to a commercial court for further ruling.
Stakala sat in the front dock as aggrieved mu’tamireen waited for him to come forward. With the case stretching for 10 months now, the complainants are frustrated and just want to be refunded or see Stakala imprisoned for the injustices he is guilty of.
Many of the affected mutamireen are pensioners and have spent all their savings on the subsidised umrah package which Stakala had sold to them last year. Since Stakala’s release on bail some three months ago, no money has been refunded and none of the mutamireen were approached by him for some explanation on the hard earned money they had entrusted to him.
Some mutamireen told VOC News that they had known Stakala since he was a child and considered him to be “like family”. After the hearing on Wednesday, Stakala rushed out of the court, dodging any possible questions from the mutamireen or media.
Stakala is currently being investigated at both Athlone and Mitchells Plain Police stations with some mu’tamireen even opening cases at the Phillippi police station. VOC News found that many of the mutamireen are hopeful that the case will be sent to the Bellville Commercial Court where they say a faster process and investigation with ensure that justice be served accordingly.
The businessman is accused of fraud and theft under false pretences, after he sold hundreds of subsidized umrah packages to travellers, of which many had to be cancelled at the 11th hour. Stakala is alleged to have not paid his service provider Lamy Travel SA in full for the logistical arrangments in Saudi Arabia and the travel arrangements could not proceed in December last year. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)