Three months after the first list of accredited hujjaj was published, South Africa’s haj quota of 2,500 has been filled. That was the confirmation from the South African Haj and Umrah Council (Sahuc), given on VOC’s Breakfast Beat on Monday morning. According to Sahuc secretary general, Shaheen Essop, the process now moves on with operators who should be leaving in the next two weeks to go to the Kingdom to finalise their contracts with hoteliers, transport companies and other service providers.
“From this week onwards we are getting ready to finalise the contractual processes in the Kingdom, which is now all done electronically. (On our side) we are ready to go to get all the passports in place.” He said this meant closer co-operation with the Muassasah and Haj Ministry as well as the embassy in Pretoria which then issues the haj visas. “As for the operators, they should be concluding their arrangements with their service providers in the next 10 days,” Essop said.
This comes after most hujjaj had to conclude their haj contracts with operators last month. However, with the dramatic fall in the value of the rand to below R10 to the US dollar – the lowest in four years – Essop reported that it has had a negative impact on hujjaj who had not settled their haj packages early. When the haj accreditation process began, Essop warned that the rand was heading towards R12 to the dollar and urged hujjaj to act quickly.
Now referring to the devaluation seen over the last three months, the Sahuc SG said: “The financial professionals had forecast that the rand would slide. So we started the accreditation process early, giving time for those who had saved for years and had been in the queue from 2010/11. Those who concluded with their operators and paid timeously were not subjected to the currency fluctuation.”
However, Essop added, after speaking to operators, it seems that most hujjaj did not act swiftly and came in for a “major shock” when they saw the impact the currency fluctuation had on the price of their packages. “(Unfortunately), many who did not pay ahead of time may now be subjected to the rand devaluation,” he concluded. VOC