SA Pilgrims to Receive R14.5 Million Compensation for Hajj Hardships

SA Pilgrims to Receive R14.5 Million Compensation for Hajj Hardships

The South African Hajj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) has announced that the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, along with the service provider, will pay over 3 million Saudi riyal (SAR), approximately R14.5 million, to 3,500 South African pilgrims who took part in the 2023 pilgrimage.

This compensation comes in response to the poor and inadequate services experienced by the local pilgrims during their Hajj journey. Sahuc stated that the pilgrims would receive a partial refund for their five-day stay due to the substandard services, including incidents of food theft and water shortages.

Sahuc president Moaz Casoo addressed these issues during a press conference held at the Suleiman Nana Memorial Hall in Brixton, Johannesburg. The event was attended by Sahuc board members, a representative from the Saudi Embassy, Sultan Al Harbi, and the head of the Hajj mission, Ismail Kholvadia.

Casoo highlighted the hardships faced by South African pilgrims during the 2023 Hajj, which took place in Mecca, located in the Hejaz region of western Saudi Arabia. According to Islamic tradition, Mecca is the holiest city and draws millions of Muslims each year for the Hajj pilgrimage, with entry restricted exclusively to Muslims.

Hajj, one of Islam’s five pillars, mandates that all physically and financially capable Muslims undertake this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. For pilgrims, it represents a deeply spiritual journey that purges sins, fosters a closer connection with God, and emphasizes unity among Muslims. Pilgrims begin their journey by entering a state of spiritual purity called “ihram.”

Women abstain from makeup and perfume, covering their hair, while men change into seamless terry cloth robes. These garments must be free of stitching, a regulation aimed at fostering unity among pilgrims regardless of their financial status. While in the state of ihram, pilgrims are prohibited from cutting their hair, trimming their nails, or engaging in sexual intercourse. They are also expected to refrain from arguing or fighting, although the journey’s challenges, including heat, crowds, and physical exertion, can test people’s patience.

While attending the Hajj last year, Casoo noted several challenges, including insufficient security that allowed pilgrims from other countries to roam around and steal items.

“They took our food, drinks, and used our ablution facilities, which resulted in them being blocked and we had no services to the facilities and they were not accessible for disabled people,”

Casoo said.

“We had no water for over two hours as there was not enough water provision, air conditioners not working,”

he added.

He mentioned that these concerns were raised with the appropriate ministry in Saudi Arabia.

“Because the cost is exorbitant due to the weaker Rand from South Africa, and we have to make sure that we cover our South Africans pilgrims wherever possible,”

Casoo said.

He also assured that all issues and challenges experienced in 2023 had been addressed to ensure a smoother process for the 2024 Hajj season.

The SAR 3 million compensation will be distributed among the 3,500 pilgrims affected during the 2023 Hajj season, marking a significant step in addressing the grievances and improving the overall Hajj experience for South African pilgrims.

What do you think?


Written by Layla Hadid

Layla Hadid is a passionate freelance journalist hailing from Midrand, known for her insightful coverage and compelling storytelling. With a keen eye for uncovering the stories that matter, Layla has made a name for herself in the journalism landscape of South Africa. Her work spans a variety of topics, from local community issues to broader, socially impactful stories that resonate with a diverse audience. Layla's dedication to truth and transparency has earned her respect and admiration among peers and readers alike.


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