From the news desk

Umrah findings soon

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Haj consumer group Hajj Watch will soon release the findings of its investigation into the Gaironiesa Foundation and Lamy Travel. Two weeks ago, Hajj Watch was requested by Lamy Travel to investigate a deal that went sour between the operator and the Gaironiesa Foundation, a non-profit organisation that provides subsidised umrah trips, in the hope of bringing recourse to the matter.

Hundreds of individuals were unable to perform their umrah after what they claim was a misappropriation of funds on the part of the travel agent and the organisation. In many instances, some pilgrims who did depart were either left unattended in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or their umrah trip was cancelled on the last minute. Muta’mireen have publicly shared their disdain at how both parties have handled the matter. Now with possible litigation underway, Hajj Watch will be looking into what went wrong and who exactly should be brought to task.

“We are hoping to release a final statement on our investigations very soon,” said Hajj Watch spokesperson, Jakes Rawat.

He said there were in fact many individuals who view the haj and umrah industry as a booming business, with which they can make easy profits. However, it is now the responsibility of the organisation to monitor these dealings and ensure that mu’tamireen are protected from businessmen who prey on the Muslim community during the holy time of haj and umrah.

Referring to this specific case, Rawat said Lamy Travel along with affected pilgrims pressed for the intervention of Hajj Watch before they embarked on any legal action, so as to ensure that they bring the guilty parties to task, in attempt to get their money back.
The travel agency has claimed they too are a victim in this case and are owed a large amount of money from the Foundation’s director Shahied Stakala for their umrah services.

Stakala met with concerned pilgrims at the weekend to inform them of the fact he will be refunding them but was unsure as to when he will be able to do so. Many pilgrims are eagerly awaiting Hajj Watch’s report in order to establish what necessary action will need to be taken next to obtain the money which they have lost.

“There is some necessary change needed in the local hajj and umrah industry. There are individuals who view this industry as a business and it is unfortunate that innocent individuals are falling victim,” Rawat concluded. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)

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