Tour company leaves scores of ‘Mighty Men’ in the lurch

2010-04-22 00:00

FOR scores of men, what was supposed to be a journey of faith to the Mighty Men conference at the weekend turned out to be a disaster that left them “pinching and scraping for survival”.

Many men attending the conference from all over South Africa had bought packages with the company SA Passport, which promised, among other things, to provide transport, accommodation and food. However, not much came of it.

Beeld newspaper this week received many complaints concerning the company’s “chaotic arrangements”, and some men are threatening to take legal action against the company.

SA Passport sold packages for up to R1 500 per person.

Michal Grobbelaar of Pretoria said his group, who travelled by bus to Shalom farm outside Greytown, began to experience problems at the gate last Thursday when many men had to pay double the entrance fee.

The organisers said that SA Passport had not paid the men’s fees to Shalom.

Some of the men had paid for beds and all of them had been promised that tents would be pitched and ready on the farm.

But, they said, no tents had been pitched.

According to a long list of complaints directed at SA Passport, there were also not enough tents and groundsheets, no beds were delivered, and only about 40% of the men were lucky enough to sleep on mattresses.

Grobbelaar said the mattresses only arrived at Shalom on Friday and were, on top of everything, “old, stinky things”.

There was also no bed linen, said Grobbelaar.

Only half of the men reportedly received blankets, while there were not enough food parcels to go around.

A group from Cape Town, for example, had to share five food parcels between 55 men.

Izak Coetzee, who also travelled from Pretoria to Shalom, said they had no choice but to pitch the tents themselves, but there were not enough.

“I had to spend the first night sleeping on the grass,” said Coetzee.

The men are also disgruntled as nobody from SA Passport was at the camp site.

Marius Erasmus of SA Passport, who was supposed to see to the arrangements, apparently planned to travel to Shalom on the Saturday morning, but he never showed up.

Erasmus said yesterday that SA Passport’s “passion” was to attract men to the Mighty Men conference and that they had no interest in making a profit.

He said an important subcontractor had left him in the lurch at the last minute with regard to the tents.

“I had to make alternative arrangements, and paid out R110 000 more in an attempt to rescue the situation.”

Erasmus said there were enough food parcels and denied that he had left the men to their own devices.

“I had planned to drive through on Saturday, but changed my mind after receiving threats.

“People mustn’t think that I purposely tried to swindle them. I have already opened a civil case against the supplier who dropped me,” he said.

Erasmus said SA Passport will compensate the men who had to pay double at the gate.

Shalom organisers confirmed yesterday that SA Passport was not listed as a registered service provider.

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