SOUTH AFRICAN ACTIVE CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION’S INVESTIGATION REPORT, AND APPEAL FOR URGENT INTERVENTION BY THE PRESIDENT, THE MINISTER, THE PREMIER OF GAUTENG..
THE MATTER BETWEEN THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT AND TAKALANI HOME FOR THE DISABLED
South African Active Civil Society Organisations is a national multi sectorial umbrella body for civil society organisations for self-advancement of citizens, and engagement with government on issues of development and governance, and to promote people centred democracy where all citizens and the state work together for common good.
SAACSO undertook to investigate the matter between the Department of Social Services. The department, made an urgent application to the high court of Johannesburg, requesting the Board of Takalani to step down to allow an investigation on financial mismanagement and the abuse of Residents in the institution.
The purpose of the investigation is to establish facts surrounding the matter, and advocate for justice and ensure that Takalani being a non-governmental body is fairly treated.
Respondents consulted and tools used during investigation
- TAKALANI Board of Directors
- The MEC’s office
- Takalani Legal team
Tools and methods used
- One to one interview of the Board, Parents and workers
- Electronic communication with the office of the MEC
Trail and sequence of events:
What the department calls financial irregularities
- According to Mini Audit Report of the Department of Health and Social Services attached as EW 1 On the 26/03/2010The department compiled a min Audit Report that according to the Board and parents took them five (5) weeks to make.
Insurance policies running from the account.
- The centre does not have monthly budget
- Amount of R800,000.00 was deposited in June by the department of Education and the funds were immediately withdrawn with Cheque nr 12580
- Salary of the centre manager (Lynn Van Rooyen) is not reasonable (R45, 011.69)
- Loan repayment amounting to R570, 500 without any contract or the name of the service provider.
- Sheriff payment amounting to R324, 173,98.
- Payment received in June 2009 R2,027,461.88 not from the department of Health & social Services and immediately 1,500,000.00 stop order was effected and the amount transferred to another account (unknown.)
- Car instalment (7,900 monthly) paid to wesbank for the manager debited from the account.
- MetLife R6 024.00
- Hollard R1 941,34
- Stancom R75
- Met Life R5,100,00
- Tracker R422,00
- Webank Reference nr FI 85092480042 amount R7, 960,61
- Wes bank Reference nr FI 85140525679 Amount R4,238,82
- Net star R149,530,00
According to minutes annexed hereto as EW2. On the 4th of May the department by Mr Solomon Ndweni called a meeting in Takalani expressing a forensic audit is required by the MEC to examine the financial management of Takalani Home has been done correctly and make certain the patients of Takalani Home are cared for at the approved standards. To ensure that the forensic runs smoothly and speedily it is requested that the current Takalani Home Board Members and distinguished management voluntarily step aside throughout the process.
The Chairman, Sam George recommended to the Board that they gracefully step aside throughout the process of the forensic audit.
On the 13 May Mr. Solomon Ndweni the Regional Director of Health and Social Services made a follow up letter to the Chairman of the Board Mr. Same George requesting for an update of the hand over date. This is confirmed by the letter annexed hereto as EW3
According to the board Mr. Sam George continued to hold meetings with the department alone to the point where Mr. Rex the interim chairman reprimanded him.
On the 22/05/2010
According to the suspension letter attached as EW4 Mr. Sam George the chairman of Takalani by then handed a notice of suspension to Lynnette Van Rooyen where the Chairman stated clearly that the suspension of Mrs. Lynn Van Rooyen was in accordance with the demand of the Department of Health and Social development. Further instructing Mrs. Lynn Van Rooyen to hand in her laptop, all files and documentation relating to Takalani.
During her suspension she will receive her normal remuneration and benefits.
On the Contrary the department in their application to court says Mrs Lynn van Rooyen was suspended by the Chairman in consultation with other Board members. It reads thus:
‘These actions led the chairperson of the executive committee and in consultation with the other members thereof, to suspend Ms. Lynn Van Rooyen pending the departmental full investigations into the matter’. Page 24 case no 21919/10 paragraph 83 says: On the 26/05/2010
The board members of Takalani and parents voted Mr. Sam George (the Chairman) out. This is stated in the minutes of the Board of the above said date, attached hereto as EW5
On the 28/05/2010
According to the letter of the Board of Takalani written to the Star Newspaper on the 01/June/2010 attached as EW6, Mr Same George the out voted and disgruntled x Chairman with his entourage of the unknown people arrived in Takalani Home claiming that they were acting on behalf of Social services and Mental Health department. They took the cottage residents out to toy toy and destabilize the Home.
Subsequent to that the same drama happened again. Mr Sam George arrived in Takalani and flattened the tires of the bus transporting the patients, instructed the patients to shout and say Lynn Van Rooyen must go. The police were called and captain Mokhele who was on private instructed Mr Sam George to return the files he had packed in the boot of his car that he removed forcefully from Takalani’s office, instead Mr. Sam George insulted Captain Ms. Mokhele calling her names, saying She is stinking like a rotten fish. He cannot be told by a fucken bitch what to do. The captain cried tears and opened a case against Mr. Sam George and He was subsequently arrested and locked up in Deipkloof Police station.
On the contrary the MEC said in her application to court that:
Mrs. Lynn van Rooyen in retaliation caused Mr Sam George to be arrested due to the theft and fraud of monies belonging to the Home. as stated below. In page 24 paragraph 84 case 21919/10
“Ms. Lynn Van Rooyen in retaliation has done two things, Firstly, she caused Mr George to be arrested for some offence which she claims Mr. George committed relating to the theft and fraud of monies belonging to the Home”.
Contrary to the MEC’s statement above
The case was opened by captain Mokhele against Mr.Sam George for insulting her that She is stinking like a rotten fish after instructing him to return all the files and the documents of Takalan, that he removed unlawfully from the office of Takalani. This is clearly stated in a letter of complaint written by the Board of Takalani to the Star Newspaper on the 1/06/2010. Attached here as EW7
Page 24 case no 21919/10 paragraph 83 says:
These actions led the chairperson of the executive committee and in consultation with the other members thereof, to suspend Ms. Lynn Van Rooyen pending the departmental full investigations into the matter.
Contrary to the MEC’s above statement. The suspension letter handed to Mrs. Lynn on the 22/05/2010 clearly states that Mrs. Lynn Van Rooyen was suspended by the chairman in accordance with the demand of the Department of Health and Social Development.
On the 17 June 2010 the department of Health and social development made an urgent application to the High court to make a ruling that the board of Takalani must step down and recommended that Averill Elizabeth be appointed as an interim administrator.
In this case Takalani Board is Respondent number one
Mr Sam George is responded number Two. At the same time in his affidavit He is a witness of the department. In case 21919/10 page 20 paragraph 70 the department clearly states that he is their Monday to Monday advisor.
Mrs. Lynn Van Rooyen is respondent number three, and she is the one who has been placed at the centre of the whole drama.
Discrepancies in the department’s allegations as tabled in their application to the High Court.
“From the recent department’s mini audit, there are many disturbing revelations of possible theft of money, un authorized or unknown transfers of the home’s money, unknown transections that oppose obligations on the home some of which the home does not benefit from. The home, it is evident, is losing money that is deposited by the department and seems to be happening at an alarming rate and involving daringly large amounts of money. I refer to the investigative report where an amount of R1 500 000 (one million and five hundred thousand Rand) that was siphoned to an unknown account”
The above statement clearly refers to the money deposited by the department for the home being siphoned to an unknown account and the amount referred to is R1 500 000.
On page 14 case No 21919/10 paragraph 44 reads as follows:
Other than the department’s funding, the home receives sponsors and donations from other persons. Such sponsors are manly in the form of financial sponsors, in some instance amount amounting to over R2 000 000.00 ( two million Rand) have been donated to the home”.
The above statement shows the amount over two million donated by other persons other than the department.
The Mini Audit report of the department of social development monitoring and evaluation unit compiled by Ms. Ntomfuthi Myeni/ Mr. Motseo dated 26 & 30.03.2010,
Under the heading: The bank statements were scrutinized and the following are the findings.
Irregularities in finances
item 4 reads as follows:
payment received in June 2009 R2,027,461.88 not from the department of Health & Social services and immediately R1 ,500,000.00 stop was effected and the amount transferred to another account (unknown)
The above statement clearly states that R1 500,000.00 transferred to the unknown account was not from the department of Health & social services therefore contradicting the statement in paragraph 62 page 14 case No 21919/10
- There is an ambiguity as to how much money was transferred to an unknown account. According to the above two statements R3 000 000.00 was transferred to unknown accounts. R1 500 000.00 from the money deposited by the department for the home and R1 500 000.00 donated by other persons other than the Department of Health and Social development.
- There is a need for a Clarification and the definition of an unknown account as to what it really means. We are of the mind that in South African banks no bank transaction can take place to non-existing account. If an account does exist, it is therefore known because it is traceable.
ABUSE OF CHILDREN:
Closure or locking of toilets that service the Home
page 21 paragraph 75-76, case no 21919/10
‘The worst that has occurred recently with Ms. Lynn Van Rooyen’s leadership was discovered when I, together with the five (5) other members of the departmental Management Team arrived at the Home unannounced. At the gate, we found two huge men of Nigerian descent manning the gate and who initially refused us entry. I had to announce that we are government officials and, by luck, a police van happened to drive to the Home and came where we were. I explained the purpose of our visits and the Nigerian men opened the gates for us. These men appear to be living there and perhaps offering their service as gatekeepers/bodyguards in exchange for accommodation.
Once inside the home we discovered, to my shock, that the main door leading to the toilets that ought to service over five hundred people was locked. There was no access to the toilets. Upon enquiry as to the reasons therefor, the security person accompanying us informed us that Ms. Lynn Van Rooyen had instructed them to lock those toilets. This was most foul to say the least as patients and staff had no other place to relieve themselves’.
SAACSO has contacted the body guards who were at the gate. They are not Nigerians, they are Zulu speaking South Africans . SAACSO has requested the MEC to provide the Names and the copies of identity documents of the Nigerian security gatekeepers/bodyguards who offered their service in exchange for accommodation in Takalani.
On the 9th/09/2010 the MEC of Health and Social Development appeared on Soweto TV. When the presenter asked her about Takalani she said children in Takalani had no linen, nappies, mattress and they were fed on soup and pap every day.
On the contrary SAACSO annex invoices of the purchases of mattresses, vegetables suppliers to Takalani, an affidavit , by the groceries buyer for Takalani and the matron’s affidavit confirming the food menu used in Takalani as opposed to what the MEC of Health and Social Services said on public TV.
It must be noted that according to the Director of Takalani and the Management team the MEC of Health and Social Services had never sat Her foot on Takalani’s Soil during their time, in spite of many invitations they made for her before and She never honored any of them. According to them She only visited Takalani after her application to Court to step down Takalani Board, the Director and the management team. In her visit she addressed the assaulters of the Director Mrs. Lynn Van Rooyen and in her speech assured them that Mrs. Lynn van Rooyen will never set her foot on Takalani’s soil any more, here application to court to step her down and the Board was a strategy to remove her.
The relationship of the Department of Health and Social Services had not been good due to conflicts arising from the Department failure to honor service level agreements pertaining to subsidy payments and non- payments of disability grants to Takalani’s residents. This is clear in a letter written by Mrs. Lynn van Rooyen on the 27/09/2007 annexed hereto as EW8
SAACSO has a deed of sale of a farm by Takalani for its self-sustainability, an account of an estate agent who assisted Takalani to purchase the farm, a bank statement clearly showing R1500000. Transferred to the estate agent account and the transference of R1500000. Transferred to the farm’s seller.
SAACSO has repeatedly requested the MEC’s office to provide an information in a form of a bank statement clearly indicating the unknown account to which a controversial R1500000.00 was transferred.
This is almost a month since the request was made; SAACSO has not received any concrete response from the MEC’s office on this matter.
SAACSO’s understanding of the story told by the Board of Takalani, The Director Mrs. Lynn van Rooyen and parents of children of Takalani, since Mrs. Lynn van Rooyen came to this institute in 2002, Takalani has been accommodating more than 400 disabled tenants each entitled to a disability grant presently to the value of R1010.00 a month.
Out of the above stated figure it is clear from calculations that the institute at present accommodating 209 tenants must be receiving over 209 000 a month from the department. On the contrary Takalani only gets R69 000 a month from social services. This alludes a serious corruption as to who is pocketing these grants for the disabled.
All staff members who disagreed with the department officials have been suspended by Avril Elizabeth the interim administrator appointed by the department.
After a few weeks Mrs. Lynn van Rooyen having enquired as to who is really pocketing these grants for the disabled, the department made an application to the High court to step down the Board of Takalani Home for the Disabled.
Mrs. Lynn van Rooyen was physically assaulted by a sector of workers who were aligned to the department in the presence of Her legal team in front of the high court.,
Her laptop was taken, all bank accounts are frozen, together with other workers who do not agree with the department are not being paid their salaries for almost four months now, some of them their houses are being repossessed, her family has been traumatized, her name has been published in a number of national press and electronic media as a fraudster and a child abuser.
Each time SAACSO tries to publish her side of the story the press media call the MEC who then instructs them not to publish their side of the story. She is gagged and denied access to finance for her legal defense.
It does not appear that there was any evidence supporting the allegations of the department in this regard. The High court judge Mbha made an arbitrary ruling to step down the board of a Non-Governmental body on allegations without evidence. It is apparent that the judge failed to apply his mind and discretion in the interest of justice and equality before the law, as a result Mrs. Lynn van Rooyen a 50 years old widow was physically and brutally assaulted, beaten and traumatized.by a section of workers who were on the side of the department.
Although the constitution declares itself transformative and skewed towards protecting the powerless from the abuse of State power, the justice system and the courts proof the opposite by favoring the powerful to the detriment of the poor, the powerless and the voiceless.
Starting from the mini audit made by the department, SAACSO fails to understand why the expenditure listed there in are called financial irregularities. Takalani is a Non-governmental organization guided by its constitution and managed by a Board of directors as stipulated by the constitution. The Board of directors have a right to spend money as they see fit to the interest of the beneficiaries. The department has no other relationship with the institution beyond the service level agreement of the monies they deposit in the account of the institution.
Takalani generates over a million a year other than the monies deposited by the department of Health and Social development.
Furthermore Takalani has one collection account to which all monies are deposited. A keen look at the mini audit report made by the department, the Department portrays an impression that all the monies belonging to Takalani is their money. In other words the department wants to dictate to Takalani on how they must run their institution as if they the department own the institution, therefore denying them the right to run the institution as they see it fit guided by their constitution. This is a false impression prevailing in this department and all over the country. This must be counteracted with severe measures as it has created a patronage relationship between government departments and Civil Society Organisations, a fertile ground for corruption and a blockage of effective service delivery on the ground.
SAACSO recommends that the department of Health and Social services must step aside and a Neutral body be appointed to investigate the department. The department of Health and Social Services is highly implicated in corruption in Takalani; through the previous Chairmen. It is as well ironic and unfair that the department can be a referee and a player at the same time in the spoils the department staff have been part of.
One wonders, when looking at the fact that Mrs Lynn van Rooyen has been a director of Takalani Home for the disabled since 2002. All along she has been receiving accolades regarding her work for caring for the disabled. The former Minister of Heath Minister Mantu Tshabalala visited Takalani and commended Mrs. Lynn van Rooyen for her work.
South African Active Civil Society Organisations believes that, this is a tip of an iceberg alluding to possible serious corruption scandals that need to be investigated by a neutral body other than both of these Departments.
A neutral investigating body is urgently required looking at the fact that according to Takalani Board members, the Machine for Takalani coffins manufacturing project worth R1.5 Million was removed from Takalani premises on public holiday of the 24/09/2010. The Board and the Director are worried that their stepping down by the MEC and the Department management staff, was to open a way to plunder what they worked for as a Board and the management staff.. Attempts to remove the machine from Takalani premises for personal gains under the pretext that, Takalani owes Mr Jerry Mahopo a salary after voting him out for defrauding the institute, were made two times before, through the very same Sheriff who has presently removed the machine.from Takalani’s premises. .. These attempts were made by the people .closely linked to the department staff. They failed because the Director and the Board stood against them.
The National Executive Director