CT Muslim pilgrims left stranded after tour operator disappears with funds

According to the Jamiatul Ulama Council of Theologians, around 40 Capetonians were unable to perform umrah in Saudi Arabia last month because their operator disappeared with their funds.

FILE: Muslim worshippers pray at the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca on 23 June 2017, during the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - A man is being sought after he allegedly scammed a group of Muslim pilgrims out of about R1 million.

According to the Jamiatul Ulama Council of Theologians, around 40 Capetonians were unable to perform umrah in Saudi Arabia last month because their operator disappeared with their funds.

Umrah is a non-mandatory lesser pilgrimage made by Muslims to Mecca, which may be performed at any time of the year.

Jamiatul Ulama Western Cape's Ihsaan Abrahams said that the pilgrims were furious because they were looking forward to going to Mecca.

Their umrah operator had apparently run away with the money they had contributed.

Abrahams said that of the 40 people scammed, 28 had come forward.

He said they were in contact with the operator before he disappeared and he promised to reimburse the pilgrims.

"He's been promising the people that he was going to pay, that he was waiting on a loan, which had been approved by the bank, but none of that has materialised."

The group had no proof of payment, which was up to R24,000 per person.

Abrahams is urging more people to come forward if they'd been scammed.