Cape Town - The man accused of swindling Umrah pilgrims out of over R1.2 million has made his first appearance in court.
Shahied Davids, 58, got his day in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court yesterday where he faced two counts of fraud.
Davids, who runs New Age SA Travel and Tours, is believed to have stolen over R1.2 million from people who booked tours through his company.
More than 30 Muslim pilgrims reported that they had each paid him over R35000 to go on Umrah in December.
However, when they arrived at Cape Town International Airport on December 27, their names were removed from the system and flights cancelled without notification.
Davids was arrested on Sunday after he was met by angry victims when he landed at Cape Town International Airport from Doha.
Videos of a crowd attacking him went viral on social media, as people labelled him a thief.
Davids, dressed in a navy blue tracksuit, appeared in court yesterday for the first time since his arrest at the Grassy Park police station.
During the court proceedings, the state indicated that the travel agent is being charged with only two counts of fraud, but more than 20 cases with the same modus operandi are being prepared by the investigating officer.
It was also revealed that he is being sought by authorities in Saudi Arabia for operating under false pretences.
The state requested a remand, deeming Davids a flight risk as he knows the travel industry, and anticipating he could try to have the charges dropped by offering the victims refunds and interfering with witnesses.
The state also claimed that being behind bars was for his safety as it would disturb the peace within communities and he could end up hurt.
The case was postponed until tomorrow for a formal bail application.
Outside court, one of Davids’ alleged victims, a 38-year-old woman from Athlone, said on the day of their departure, Davids told her there were some complications with the bookings.
“I was on a video call with someone that was with him in Medina and he said I should go to the airport.
“When we got there, our names were deleted from the system. We tried calling him but he didn’t answer any calls,” she said.
The victim said she trusted Davids as she previously made use of his travel agency.
“I have travelled with him previously and the experience wasn’t too bad. I went back to him because we had built that trust.
“We paid him off throughout the year and he said he booked the tickets and accommodation.
“He went to go stand in front of the house of Allah in his purest state, but I don’t know what he was trying,” she said.