Gov’t agencies endorsed the fraud.
Berhanu Mengesha (seen in picture), 30, a resident of Jimma and a mechanic by profession, shouts for justice. He claims to have been defrauded by Askallukan Trading Plc when he paid for a trip to South Africa for the World Cup.
He bought a package from Askallukan Trading, who ran a promotional campaign claiming to possess 10,000 guaranteed visas to South Africa for the World Cup. Berhanu paid close to 37,600 Br for the package that included a roundtrip plane ticket, a five-day hotel stay with meals, and a match of his choice (Argentina Vs. Nigeria).
However, Berhanu and close to 1,200 other people who also paid for the package, never made it to South Africa. Some of them claim to have had their visas cancelled days after it was issued to them by the South Africa Embassy.
Close to 300 people, mostly young men, who claim to have been “victims of Askallukan” took their protest to the street on Thursday, July 15, 2010. They marched from Meskel Square to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) along Jomo Kenyatta Street (the route from the square to Bambis area).
The protestors blamed the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MoTC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, claiming that they had endorsed the company. They also blamed Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA) for lending legitimacy to the package by giving it wide media coverage.
Girmay Gebremichael, deputy director general of Askallukan Trading Plc, who is yet to be found, has multiple civil suits filed against him and his company. The court had already passed an injunction order on several of his properties. His wife, general manager and a partner in Askallukan, is in police custody pending a criminal investigation.
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