A small NGO working with abused women and children is set to square off with the Gauteng Department of Social Development this week after having their accounts frozen by court order and seeing the removal of the homes’ occupants from the facility in December last year.
The NGO now seeks to expose what they suspect was corruption at the hands of the department when two large sums of money – totalling over R23 million – were transferred to their accounts last year, supposedly for the benefit of a non-profit organisation owned by the Life Esidimeni clinic.
The provincial department has yet to respond to requests for comment on the saga, but has promised to issue a statement “shortly”. Last week, the department’s lawyers conceded in the North Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg that all protocols and regulations were flouted during the transaction.
Lawyer Dawie Joubert said the officials needed to be disciplined by the department, which should be followed by suspensions. In early December last year, Gauteng Premier David Makhura filed an affidavit in an application to freeze the accounts of A Re Ageng following allegations that their accounts were untrustworthy.
This was after a dispute between the department and A Re Ageng in which the department tried to send money to Life Esidimeni’s non-profit organisation, Life Recovery Centre, using A Re Ageng’s bank account as a conduit in October last year.
A Re Ageng director Mpuleng Lenyehelo smelled a rat when an amount of over R10 million was transferred into the NGO’s Absa Bank account with an untraceable account and reference number.
A similar transaction had taken place successfully to the same account in June last year, in which an amount of R13 million was sent to A Re Ageng with instructions to send the money to the Life Recovery Centre “as a matter of urgency”.
But this time, Lenyehelo only received a call two weeks later notifying her that the money was from the department. In her answering affidavit, Lenyehelo noted that while the department claimed that this transfer was a matter of urgency, no urgent application was brought before court in this regard.
When the second amount (R10 million) was sent in October, Lenyahelo said that things took a turn for the worse after she started asking questions.
Several incidences of suspected account hacking occurred before R5 million “disappeared” from the account and was paid to a fuel company.
The NGO claims it was not involved in the payment and that their account was hacked. The matter continues in court on Friday.