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Court order keeps Epworth’s doors open

Judge Thina Siwendu ruled the department must pay Epworth its respective subsidies.

In a dramatic turn of events, the Epworth Child and Youth Care Centre will continue operations after an urgent court ruling compelled the Department of Social Development (DSD) to pay overdue subsidies.

Initially set to close on May 31, the centre announced it will remain open following the legal intervention led by Paul Farinha and his team on behalf of Epworth Home and Bethany Trust.

The court hearing took place on May 28 at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.

ALSO READ: Epworth Child and Youth Care Centre to close doors on May 31

Justin Ducie, from Farinha, Ducie, and Christofi Attorneys, stated the court action was crucial to ensure the survival of these homes.

The court ruled in favour of Epworth and Bethany House Trust, mandating immediate subsidy payments from the provincial DSD.

Judge Thina Siwendu’s ruling required the department to:

• Pay Epworth and Bethany their respective subsidies by 16:00, on May 31.

• Extend the service-level agreements (SLAs) from the 2023/24 financial year to the first two quarters of the current financial year (April 2024 to September 2024).

• Provide reasons for rejecting funding applications for some of Bethany’s programs.

• Enter negotiations with Epworth and Bethany to finalise the outstanding SLAs by the end of September.

Penny Lundie, director of the Epworth Centre, expressed her relief and optimism.

“We are excited to continue at Epworth. We need to negotiate the terms of a new SLA and regroup with our board to plan for the future,” said Lundie.

ALSO READ: Winter donations requested by Epworth Children’s Village

She noted despite the initial closure announcements they arranged to stay open in June because of the NPO crisis and the need to find placements for the children.

However, by June 6, the centre had yet to receive the court-ordered funds, highlighting ongoing challenges despite the legal victory.

Lundie emphasised the importance of community support.

“We have been surviving on donations and community support, for which we are forever grateful. We plead with the community to continue supporting us as we navigate our way forward,” she said.

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