Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News
A request by the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) to the Ministry of Hajj in Saudi Arabia for an increase in the quota for South African hujjaj has been declined.
Below is the press release by The Minister of Hajj Dr. Bandar bin Mohammad Hajjar which has been translated from Arabic to English.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN HAJJ AND UMRAH COUNCIL
Assalaam Alaykum Warrahmatullaahie Wabarakatu
Regarding the signing of the Protocol between the Hajj Ministry and the South African Hajj & Umrah Council and the preparation for Hajj 1434, the meeting that was held where the South African delegation requested an additional 2500 to be added to the official quota which is 2500 to be a total of 5000 Hujjaaj.
We would like to inform you regarding the letter no. 333 previously sent, dated the 23/7/1434, regarding the capacity of the mataaf that was reduced due to the construction of expanding the mataaf in the Haram Shareef that it could not accommodate those big volumes of Hujjaaj.
We asked all the countries to reduce their quota by 20% from their official quota. Therefore your request to increase the quota could not be granted. Even the Islamic countries who asked for an increase in their quota were also rejected. No increases will be granted until the expansion project by the government of the custodian of the two holy mosques and the expansion of the two Harams and the Mashaaer is completed in the near future by the Will of Allah (S.W.A)
Therefore, the department responsible for the increasing of the quotas in Saudi Arabia begins by apologizing for not being able to grant the request to increase the quota and we would like the South African Hajj and Umrah Council to strictly adhere to their official quota for this year which is 2000 for the hajj season 1434.
We appreciate your co-operation and understanding and we ask Almighty Allah (S.W.A.) to grant the guests of Allah a Hajj Mabroor and Thamban Maghfoor.
Accept our appreciation in this matter.
The Minister of Hajj, Dr. Bandar bin Mohammad Hajjar
SAHUC: “First Time Hajee’s Could Wait up to Six Years Before Going for Hajj”
The South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC) say South African Muslims wanting to go for Hajj for the first time could wait up to six years due to major backlogs.
Saudi Arabia has cut this year’s global Hajj quota by 20 percent due to renovations to the Haram and the renovations will not be completed when Hajj commences in October.
South Africa’s quota was decreased by 500 and the backlog stood at 15,000.
SAHUC says it still has more than 12,000 applicants on its registry, of which more than 9,000 are first time applicants.
The council’s Secretary General Shaheen Essop says, “Eventually once all the renovations have taken place in the kingdom, I’m almost sure we will get back to our original levels. However, one also needs to bear cognisance of other countries like Malaysia, which has a 33-year waiting list and they have a quota of 28,000.”
Earlier SAHUC confirmed that all hujjaj who have been affected by the 20% cut in the SA quota this year have now been contacted.
SAHUC confirmed to Voice of the Cape that all calls to the 375 affected hujjaj who registered for accreditation after 12 January 2012 were completed by 27 June 2013.
Essop confirmed that hajj operators had been in talks with another 125 hujjaj who had voluntarily deferred their haj to next year for various reasons.
This included people who were ready to go for haj after the deadline who had been swapped with others who registered earlier and are no longer able to go. Jointly, it makes for the full 500 that was cut from the SA haj quota of 2,500.