A holiday from hell

2014-01-21 00:00

A HOLIDAY trip to Cape Town turned into a nightmare for a group of Pietermaritzburg women when their tour operator allegedly deserted them at night, with nowhere to sleep.

Vernal Augustus and 70 other holiday makers travelled to Cape Town on a tour organised by Durban company Andre Tours, operated by Andre Naidoo.

Augustus said the tour, with holiday makers from Pietermaritzburg, Durban and India on board, had a shaky start and turned into a nightmare when they reached Cape Town.

Naidoo hit back, saying he had organised the best possible tour and fed his clients take-aways, but they were too fussy.

Augustus has registered a complaint with the police and is suing the company in the small claims court for the money paid to book the tour and to fly back to Pietermaritzburg.

A letter of demand with the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court says she is suing Andre Tours for R11 590.

Augustus said she had paid R9 000 for her and a friend for the trip that started on December 27 and was to return on January 3. The money was for travel, accommodation, and breakfast and supper.

An Andre Tours advert on the Internet reads: “We will be offering the most affordable 8-day tour from Durban to Cape Town by bus this coming festive season, for just R4 500 per person including breakfast and supper as well as accommodation in a 5-star hotel. This is the best price guaranteed.”

Augustus said the first sign of trouble was when a low-cost bus arrived to transport them, instead of the luxury vehicle they had been promised.

“We arrived in Cape Town on Saturday at 10 pm and he [Naidoo] informed us he had double-booked and we did not have any accommodation. He took us to the University of the Western Cape where we were expected to sleep ….we were not happy so he said he would seek other accommodation.”

Augustus said the bus then drove along Long Street, where Naidoo said he would find other accommodation.

“In the traffic on Long Street he slipped off the bus and got into a BMW and disappeared.

“After three days on the bus, I paid for flights back to Durban. I contacted him [Naidoo] and gave him my banking details to return the money; he has not done so.”

Another passenger, Avashnee Govender, said that tired, hungry and unbathed in two days, she also flew back to Pietermaritzburg the following day.

Other passengers continued with the tour.

Naidoo said his clients were too fussy. “I never left them on the side of the road. I had accommodation but that was double-booked. I took them to another accommodation but they did not want it. I even bought them KFC.”

He said he had arranged a tour bus — “What did they want? A five-star bus?”

Naidoo said he had to flee the bus after the passengers threatened to kill him. “I never robbed anyone.”

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