Home NewsMiddle East Fraudulent Visas Leave South African Pilgrims Stranded in Jeddah

Fraudulent Visas Leave South African Pilgrims Stranded in Jeddah

by Thaabit Kamaar

 

Saudi Arabia – The President of the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC), Moaaz Casoo, disclosed that several South African pilgrims were stranded at Jeddah International Airport and denied entry to Saudi Arabia due to fraudulent visas.

In an interview with Salaamedia, he explained that SAHUC did not accredit these pilgrims. Despite this, the pilgrims reached out to the council for assistance as immigration officials at the airport were denying them entry.

These pilgrims possessed Mujamla visas, courtesy visas issued by the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Pretoria. However, the visas held by this particular couple were fraudulent, ultimately leaving them stranded at the airport before being sent back to South Africa.

“When we received the call, we requested the sister to send us their passport details and visas. After receiving all her details, we forwarded the information to the Saudi Embassy in South Africa to see if they could assist the pilgrims. Unfortunately, the sister mentioned that according to the immigration officials in Saudi Arabia, the visa was a fraudulent document.”

“When we inquired where she had obtained her visa, she informed us that a travel operator from Johannesburg issued her this Mujamla courtesy visa. This operator is not an accredited Hajj operator, so we cannot comment further.”

Although the travel operator’s identity remains undisclosed due to pending legal action by the affected pilgrims, Casoo emphasised that exploiting individuals seeking to fulfil their lifelong religious obligations is a serious offence.

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What Are Mujamla Visas?

Casoo explained that Mujamla visas are typically issued to repeat pilgrims or those looking to avoid long waiting periods. Many choose this option to bypass the lengthy SAHUC accreditation process, which can take years.

However, this route can have financial consequences and potentially leave individuals vulnerable to exploitation, scams, and deceitful practices.

“In terms of the visa itself, what we have heard and seen over the years is that people exploit those in desperation and charge them exorbitant fees for the visa … We hear through the grapevine that sometimes people charge R10,000 to R15,000 just for the visa, whereas the actual cost is around R300 to R400 for the Hajj visa. Unfortunately, this situation is being abused, and it’s something that is out of our control.

Recognising the vulnerabilities in obtaining Mujamla visas, Casoo expressed deep concern over the number of pilgrims who contacted SAHUC after being exploited. To protect future pilgrims from such crimes, he urged stricter measures in the Hajj process and improved coordination with the Saudi Embassy to prevent such incidents.

“We need to speak to the Saudi Embassy to see how they can put measures in place to prevent the exploitation of South African pilgrims, whether they are repeat or first-time pilgrims. We need to have a discussion with the Saudi Embassy to see how this can be controlled going forward.”


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