Johannesburg – With accreditation completed, the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) have been put under the spotlight. An aggrieved Hajj 2020 candidate took aim at the organisation’s process and policies.
Shazia Moosa, a Hajj 2020 candidate, penned a letter to SAHUC questioning them on several things as well as making serious allegations against the organisation. Moosa questioned why she and others who were accredited for Hajj in 2020 were not given first preference this year.
She also questioned how the deference system works. According to her, when someone defers, they lose 30 points. When they defer three times, they are removed from the list and have to reapply. However, she learnt that some of those accredited this year are part of a group who had three consecutive deferrals.Moosa was told by SAHUC peoplein this situation were accredited because they were in a “parked state”.
Moosa alleged that knowing the right person in SAHUC can get one pushed to the front of the line.
“I myself know of people I could go and speak to to get my name on the list. I personally know people who have put their names on the list and have gone for Hajj when their names have not been on the accreditation list.”
At the moment, Covid cases are rising and there is a fear that another lockdown could occur. Moosa questioned what measures SAHUC has put in place to ensure everyone is refunded by the Hajj operators should a cancellation take place.
Moosa has called on people to stop calling for SAHUC to be shut down. She maintains that while the organisation might not be performing its duties in the correct manner, it still makes travelling for Hajj much easier. Instead of ending it, people should be aiming to improve it.
SAHUC’s response to accreditation
Shaheen Essop, President of SAHUC, issued a response to Moosa’s letter clarifing her questions and the allegations raised. He acknowledged that Moosa was correct about an applicant’s listing being cancelled if they deferred three times. He also explained what a “parked state” is.
“When we talk about cancel, we take the person out of the queue and put them in what we call a parked state. When that person is ready for Hajj, whether it be logistically or financially, they come back to SAHUC, and we then sit them down and go through the process with them. Make sure that they are not repeat pilgrims and then put them into the queue for accreditation. That is the way the whole process and policy works.”
When it comes to losing points, that only occurs if a person is accredited and does nothing at the time of closing of that particular list, said Essop. That person then gets thirty points deducted from them and moves to the back of the line.
Essop also called upon Moosa to bring forth evidence to support her allegation that people can talk their way to the front of the line. The Association of Muslim Auditors and Lawyers did the external audits on SAHUC for the past thirteen years and found no irregularities during those years. This year, Mazars are in charge of the audit and also found no irregularities. Had they not given the green light to SAHUC, an accreditation list would not have been released.
Refund safety measures in place
With regards to refunds, Essop said safety measures are in place to ensure this takes place.
“What we’ve done is, in the application process, we’ve asked operators to put down an irrevocable bank guarantee. They must take their assets, go to their bank, and do what is necessary at the bank. That is the process upon which these guarantees come into the equation. Those letters of guarantee are lodged with SAHUC so if anything goes pear-shaped, we will then lodge those guarantees.”
In 2020 a surety was taken with the operators on the unencumbered assets. Essop explained they could not call upon those assets until a formal charge is laid against the operator by a pilgrim.
Essop welcomed Moosa to come to SAHUC so they could discuss her grievances in person and help to clarify any other problems she may have with the organisation.