#OperationSA launched the drive earlier this week in response to calls to help with humanitarian efforts in Aleppo and other parts of war-torn Syria.
“The response from South Africans has been overwhelming. We are continuing to get pledges online and via SMS,” said #OperationSA founder Yusuf Abramjee.
Almost R14-million has been pledged for #SAveSyria. A multi-channel four hour pledge line broadcast on Tuesday evening raised R 10 028 953.00
The #SAveSyria #OperationSA campaign was launched following calls to assist victims of the Syrian conflict. Abramjee with fellow social activists Yaseen Theba and Catherine Constantinides are among those behind #OperationSA.
The pledge line saw almost 800 callers and thousands of SMS’s. The biggest single pledge was R2,3 million was from the Polokwane Muslim Trust Welfare Fund for the Al-Imdaad Foundation. It has already been paid into the special fund.
Scores of young children, some donating their spending money, also called in. A Pretoria family, who did not want to be named, even cancelled their planned holiday to donate to #SAveSyria.
The money is to be distributed to seven local charities who are doing humanitarian work in Syria. They are the Al-Imdaad Foundation, Africa Muslims Agency, Jamiatul-Ulama SA, Jamiatul-Ulama KZN, Al-Quds Foundation, Muslim Judicial Council and Islamic Relief SA.
The Al-Quds Foundation is preparing a container with food and clothing and it is scheduled to leave Johannesburg on Wednesday.
“South Africans and foreigners really opened their hearts. The donations will go a long way to ease the pain and suffering of Syrians,” said Abramjee from #OperationSA
“We are witnessing ubuntu in action yet again. The response from the public has been amazing and we will ensure that every rand raised is used for humanitarian relief such as food, blankets, medicines and shelter,” added Abramjee.
He said “it was not only Muslims who were donating. People from all sectors of society are digging deep into their pockets.
“If one person suffers we all feel the pain. It is our duty to help those in need irrespective of religion, nationality or race. We are all human.
“The pledge recall rate is brilliant. We almost have 50% of the money in within such a short space of time. I have not seen such a response in all the years of charity and community work,” Abramjee told the Saturday Star.
Yaseen Theba from #OperationSA said the pledge line was a “major success.”
He said “we were not sure how much money will come in because we are in the middle of the holiday season.
“The phones did not stop ringing. The shocking images from Syria also prompted many callers to donate. The almost R14m raised in such a short period of time shows we are a caring nation,” said Theba who directed the Call Centre Operations.
Online pledges are still coming in and the public can continue donating on the website www.operationsa.org
Donations can also be made via Whats App and SMS: 072 3 99 99 99.
Catherine Constantinides said: “Thank you, thank you, thank you. South Africans never stop to amaze. They dig deep into their pockets and they always make a difference. We have hearts of gold. I am proud of my colleagues at #OperationSA, the many volunteers and sponsors. Well done also to the media for supporting the cause.”
Abramjee said he and Qari Ziyaad Patel from the Al-Imdaad Foundation will lead a delegation to the Turkish-Syrian border early in the new year “to look at conditions on the ground and the relief operations underway.”
The Al-Imdaad Foundation is co-ordinating the visit with #OperationSA and “we want to see exactly how every rand donated by people is going to be used.”
“We will not allow money donated to be used for salaries, agents fees and admin costs,” said Abramjee.
#OperationSA will continue to work locally and internationally by engaging with partners, donors and communities “to develop projects that bring relief, hope and dignity to some of the most vulnerable people.”
Abramjee and Theba were part of the team that founded Operation Hydrate earlier this year. The civil-society group donated millions of liters of water to drought-stricken communities.
Abramjee is also Chief Ambassador the CEO Sleepout SA. This year they donated R9m to three charities involved in education. Over R20m went to Boys and Girls Town last year.
“Our mission in life should be to help others in need and create a better world,” he said.
In partnership with the Al-Imdaad Foundation, Abramjee and the Operation Hydrate team also drilled boreholes in many parts of SA.
Al-Imdaad’s Projects Coordinator Qari Ziyaad Patel said : “Our teams on the ground are ready to facilitate the relief efforts on behalf of #OperationSA and with the experience and transparency we have it will indeed be and eye opener for the group.
“The situation and difficulties faced by the Syrian people is without doubt the worst humanitarian crisis of our time and together this initiative from #OperationSA will make a huge difference.”
The 70-year-old who invented the Human Pin Code method for analyzing personalities was gagged with duct tape over his mouth and nose and handcuffed in his Observatory home in the early hours of Monday morning.
His assailants left after making off with many items. On Thursday he was admitted to hospital and is being treated for acute kidney failure.
Poisoning is being investigated. His domestic worker has been missing since the incident.
Forbes’ son Brad said apart from attending the scene quickly on Monday morning they have not been to take fingerprints. “I am concerned that they are missing vital clues,” he said.
Anti-crime activist, Yusuf Abramjee, says he has called on Gauteng MEC for
Community Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, to get police “to urgently bring the perpetrator/s to book.”
“We wish Douglas a speedy recovery. Crime Must Fall!”
Brad Forbes: 0728386728
Official figures by the General Authority for Statistics in the Kingdom show that 1,862,909 pilgrims took part in this year’s Hajj.
Just over 1,3 million of them were from outside Saudi Arabia. Almost 2000 South Africans were accredited for Hajj this year.
Many South Africans have to wait for years before getting visas, so my joy at being included in this year’s cohort of pilgrims was irrepressible.
It was my first Hajj. Over the years I heard horror stories from some about how difficult it is to perform Hajj.
My experience was completely different. My fears were all misplaced.
Saudi attention to detail and seamless comfort for the pilgrim was most commendable.The scale of the exercise is much bigger than events such as the Olympics.
Saudi police and soldiers were out in full force and safety measures were a top priority following disasters in previous years.
The South African Hajj and Umrah Council (SAHUC), SA’s acting Ambassdor to the Kingdom, Mohammed Abbas Khan and Consul-General Shoayb Casoo ensured that pilgrims were well taken care of. They provided outstanding services to the “Hujjaj” – pilgrims including free medical care.
ITV, a community TV station with an Islamic ethos, (DSTV 347) broadcasted live from Makkah every day to keep families of local pilgrims informed. They enlightened, informed and entertained audiences back home, sharing the greatest journey of the lifetime. Other media organizations also covered Hajj 2016 extensively.
I met pilgrims from across the globe: Fiji Islands, Barbados, Australia, America, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, United Kingdom, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Zambia and the list goes on and on.
The paraphrased words of the Noble Quran echo in my soul that “we have created for you different tribes, races and nations so that you can get to know each other better with compassion”.
So my “spiritual voices” of being culture fair and anti-bias with a focus on human rights, are unlike the narrative the public is fed, of Muslims as so-called terrorists.
The one thing we can say is everyone from taxi drivers to shop owners love South Africans.
Their faces would light up when they recognize our accents and say: “Janubi Africa!” Which translated is:“O South African!”
It’s an even more animated response when we say we’re from “Mandela’s Country”.
The sense of cross national Fellowship, care and compassion negates the bigoted voices of Islamophobia.
The “voices of my spiritual education” overtakes me as I’m reminded to care for the hungry and poor.
I was part of a group of South African pilgrims who rallied together this Hajj to distribute food and water for other pilgrims.
Some 12 000 people benefitted over a week and a truck load of milk and juices was distributed over Hajj in Arafat. It was a small gesture.
Let’s not forget that unconditional charity forms part of our AbrahamicTradition.
I’m mentioning this not for gainsaying, but to celebrate the spiritual and diplomatic benefits for South Africans.
Terror,arrogance, pride, classism are not at the heart of our Islamic tradition.
As a pilgrim, I was acutely aware that my mortality and my worldly achievements meant nothing. I had to rely on modelling piety and compassion.
My spiritual voices remind me what Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)said: “Do you know what is better than charity and fasting? It is keeping peace and good relations between people, as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.” (Bukhari)
It’s not a cliché to say that my Hajj 2016 was a journey of a lifetime.
It was indeed a life changing experience.
It provides Muslims with a massive spiritual boost and you leave the Hajj as a newborn baby – free from all sins.
The challenge is to keep the flag of God Almighty flying high and being on-going ambassadors for Islam.
It is our duty to submit to God’s Will by modelling the Prophetic values of “love to all – malice to non”, of justice, peace, care, service to humanity, to mention a few.
Of course the first revelation in the Final Testament- the Noble Quran- helps since Muslims, as an act of worship have to be lifelong learners given that we are expected to: “Read! Read in the name of the name of the Lord who created Thee!” In a foreign setting with diverse people and languages this spiritual skill is a boon.
In Madinah , the feeling you get when you stand before the grave of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to offer your greetings is just deeply restorative, spiritually enveloping and majestic.
The vibrational energies are palpable as we hymn our praises to the Prophet, his companions and his family and plead that he intercedes on our behalf to God Almighty for Mercy and Grace on the Day of Judgement.
It is apt that the resting place of the Prophet (PBUH), Madinah itself is very clean and has a serene and tranquil atmosphere.
We left onward to the Holiest City in the world for Muslims, Makkah, with our hearts longing to return to the sublime presence of the Prophet described by Bernard Shaw as: “The wonderful man in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity.”
The endless sea of pilgrims who come to honour the Prophet 24/7 bears testimony to the Prophets legacy.
In Makkah the architecture of the Grand Mosque itself is aesthetically pleasing and majestic both inside and outside. Expansions are underway and the Mosque, once fully completed, will accommodate 1,8-million pilgrims.
Staying over in Mina, the tent city, visiting Arafat and sleeping under the stars in Muzdalifa are part of the five day Hajj ritual.
The whole atmosphere, the realisation that you were in a deeply spiritual place on earth, the sheer volume of people, the recitations, was really pleasantly overwhelming, hypnotic and uplifting.
All pilgrims were stripped of their worldly status, since our humble garbs, the white two pieces of material, the “Ihram”, made us all equal. No brand names – it was truly a leveller.
A humbling experience for me was the taw’waf (circling) around the Ka’aba – the first house of worship dedicated to God, built by Prophet Adam – which is an act of worship; it is a ritual unique in the history of the humankind.
It consists of going seven times (anti-clock-wise) around the Ka’aba, simply praising God Almighty.
This tradition goes way back to the time of Prophet Abraham and which, in the process, reminds every pilgrim that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not bring any new religion into the world but rather he brought perfection and the finality to the same monotheistic faith – Islam- that was preached by the earlier Prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon all of them).
The pilgrims could only compete in piety and the “voices of my spirituality reminded me: “Say: Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah (God), the Cherished Lord of the Worlds.”
The Hajj becomes all the more a poignant and an emotional experience to a Muslim as it is an act of worship enjoined on them by God as we honour a religious tradition that goes back several centuries in time including the Prophets Adam and Abraham.
I was enacting what Noble souls before me had done and exclaiming with tears in my eyes: “All praise be to God. There’s no God but God and there is none like him. Here I am at Your service O Allah, here I am. Here I am at Your service, You have no partner, here I am at Your service. For You alone is All Praise and All Grace, and for You alone is The Sovereignty. You have no partner.”
Yes – these elegantly simple words are often described as the anthem of Hajj, the song of Hajj, the chant of Hajj, the essence of Hajj.
They are deep in spiritual meaning and aspiration. Indeed, I had not the least doubt that I was standing on hallowed ground. Another miracle for me is the sacred Well of Zam Zam, which still exists within the precinct of the Mosque
Millions have been drinking its blessed water for generations and there seems no end of it.
Besides, it is required of all pilgrims to drink from the Well and, as they do, they remember God and thank Him for his generous Bounties and Mercies.
This endless supply of healing water gushes forth at the spot in the desert where Prophet Abraham’s wife Hagar begged God Almighty to grant her water. Another highlight for me and the most cathartic experience was the symbolic pelting of the devil – it’s really a rejection of all evil and an acceptance of submission to God Almighty’s will.
One becomes deeply reflexive of life and living during Hajj. Yes, we live in a world of turmoil. So, here we pray for global peace. Islam is under attack and misconceptions about our religion are rife.
Simply put: the love we saw here on Hajj, across colour, race, class, culture, gender lines clearly negates the bigoted media narrative.
Islam says NO to terrorism. The “voices of my spiritual education” says in the Noble Quran: “If anyone killed a person…to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all humankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humankind” (5:32)
That’s one of the reasons I decided to share my #Hajj2016 #AbramjeeOnHajj journey on social media platforms and on the mainstream media.
The “voices of my spiritual education” are indeed eminently suited for the 21st Century. Hence I’ve decided to spend the remainder of my life to “spiritualise my politics, and politicize my spirituality” for all of human kind as Muslims are supposed to, for the pleasure alone of God Almighty Allah.
The first groups of pilgrims arrived home this weekend. The King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah was packed to capacity as tens of thousands of pilgrims prepared to leave. One had to check in some 10 hours before our scheduled departure.
Hajj 2016 will live in our hearts for ever.
*Yusuf Abramjee is a social activist.
MEDIA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday 19 May 2016
LIMPOPO KIDNAPPING SUSPECTS GRANTED BAIL: MOOSA FAMILY DISAPPOINTED
The Moosa family has criticized the decision by the Polokwane Magistrates Court granting bail to three men accused of kidnapping 35-year-old Anisah Moosa.
The suspects are also linked to other kidnapping cases, robbery and the attempted murder of three police officers.
Samuel Kabo (28) from Pretoria, Masilo Gafane (33) and Benny Mudau (34) allegedly kidnapped Anisah Moosa in March from outside her uncles home in Nirvana, Polokwane. They demanded R3-million ransom. She was freed three days later after a police operation saw the three policemen shot and injured. The suspects were later arrested.
Anisah was unharmed.
Since the start of the bail hearing, hundreds of protestors have been gathering outside the court building demanding #NoBail and #CrimeMust Fall. Members of the ANC and DA joined in. The vociferous crowd chanted “No Bail for Kidnappers” and “We want justice.”
Moosa family spokesman, anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee, said: “We are disappointed that the Magistrate granted bail of R10 000 each to the three men.
“We have no option but to respect the decision of the court.
“We now look forward to the speedy finalization of the trial. We want to see justice taking its course. We also remain hopeful that the police will make further arrests soon,” said Abramjee.
He added: “The family is grateful to the community of Limpopo and Polokwane in particular for the support we received from Day 1. United we stand. We must continue to stand up against crime and make our voices heard.
“Yes, bail is a process…but for such serious crimes we believe the men should NOT have been granted bail,” he said.
“We do remain hopeful the law is going to come down hard on those responsible for a series of violent crimes,” the family added.
Anisah is recovering well from her ordeal and she has again thanked South Africans for the “ongoing support.”
Cell 082 4414 203
Crime Stoppers International (CSI) is pleased to announce the appointment of South African, Yusuf Abramjee as Chairman of CSI’s Global Media Communications Committee and Global Director of Communications.
As the Chairman of Global Media Communications, Abramjee shall be responsible for ensuring our global audiences become more aware of our partnerships with international and regional media such as CNN, BBC World, and our global law enforcement partners, Interpol, United Nations Office of Drug Crime (UNODC), and the leading NGO’s we work with such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
The task ahead for Yusuf will also include developing further media partnerships within communities in Europe, Caribbean and the Americas, Canada, Africa, and Australasia.
CSI President, Alexander MacDonald, said: “We are delighted that Yusuf has accepted this very important role as our Media Chair and Global Communications Director. His experience and expertise are most needed at this time in our organization’s development. The appointment takes effect on 1 January 2016.”
MacDonald said Yusuf is a global anti-crime activist, known and respected for his work as the Head of Crime Line SA. He was chair of the CSI Conference hosted in Cape Town, South Africa in 2014. “We are on record as saying it was one of the best, biggest and most successful conferences CSI has hosted.”
CSI recently relocated its global headquarters to The Hague in the Nederlands. “While Yusuf will be based in Johannesburg, he will also travel between the two countries as required. We are also pleased that he will continue to undertake other tasks and responsibilities and continue to do good in communities and create a safer world. He is an active social cohesion advocate and also an Interpol #TurnBackCrime Ambassador.”
Yusuf said he was looking forward to the new challenge.
“CSI is continuing to grow and I look forward to taking the organization to the next level. This is an exciting new chapter for me and I am ready for the challenge. Crime Stoppers is critical to the success of law enforcement as law enforcement is critical in the fight against crime. We need to further cement this kind of relationship around the world.”
I spent the entire morning in Court 5 of the Pretoria Regional Court.
I was due to testify as a witness in the house robbery case where my family and I fell victim.
This incident took place in Nov 2013.
I returned to the court building after many years. As a reporter, I spent many long hours in the courts covering stories.
Little seems to have changed. The building is the same old dump. The courtrooms are still filled with stale air and they have not been renovated for years.
The system seems to have also changed little over the years. Case after case gets postponed.
Many prosecutors left at around 11am to attend the funeral of a colleague.
While waiting for the accused in my case to arrive, it was interesting to watch the prosecutors, lawyers, court officials and police officers at work.
Most have no rush…They joke, and walk around. In the public gallery, witnesses and even accused out on bail wait for the next move.
The Magistrate walks in and everyone stands. It appears this is when the serious stuff start.
Postponed…postponed…postponed…yes it continues.
In between an accused appears to be sentenced on a charge of corruption. He has been waiting for ten years for the case to be finalized. The man, a Home Affairs official, took a R2000 bribe from a Pakistani national.
Within 30 minutes, it’s all over. A witness testifies and the State and Defence argue their case. Immediately the magistrate hands down the sentence. 5 years in jail.
The State prosecutors are happy. The Defence lawyer is grumpy. He wants to appeal the conviction and sentence but aborts the application quickly after the magistrate asks whether it is a formal application.
In the meantime, a man shackled is brought into the public gallery by prison warders. He sits a few places away from us in the front row. I immediately recognized him as the suspect in my robbery case. He was apparently sentenced to 5 years in jail on another charge.
Eventually, the two accused are called to the stand and my son and I are asked to leave the courtroom. We are called back and asked to return to court on 28 May. Yes, another postponement.
The magistrate angrily tells the one accused “This is not a circus…” This is in response to him looking around the gallery and fiddling with his hands.
Their lawyers indicates they want to bring another bail application for the one man. This is possibly the fifth attempt.
We need an effective and efficient court system. Delays are causing lots of frustration. The system works far too slow. Promises over the years that things will improve at the lower courts have never materialized.
It’s time for action. The criminal justice system is critical to ensuring that we fight crime effectively. For as long as this does not happen, we are not going to see progress.