The Gauteng government refuses to pay an NGO that works with abused women and children its subsidy for this quarter because the shelter has been “underperforming” and its contract is “suspended”.
This was heard at the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday, where state advocate Dawie Joubert submitted details of a report by the social development department, based on an audit performed on the shelter named A Re Ageng.
It found missing supporting documents for some of the NGO’s expenses, and statistics suggested the shelter was not meeting its targets for the number of beneficiaries it was meant to reach, according to its contract with the department.
But this was disputed by A Re Ageng’s advocate Ori Ben-Zeev, who demonstrated mistakes in the report regarding the number of beneficiaries the facility catered for each month.
The department also argued the amount owed to the shelter should be based on the number of beneficiaries served.
But the NGO said this was impracticable because the shelter provided a round-the-clock emergency service for victims of abuse, and was also dependant on referrals – from government agencies in some cases.
A Re Ageng and other NGOs are being probed by the Gauteng government following Premier David Makhura’s concern about the conduit system, in which government pays certain organisations using the accounts of registered NGOs as conduits.
This follows A Re Ageng being dragged to court last year after the mysterious payment of R5 million to a fuel company from the NGO’s bank account.
The NGO had recently received R10 million from the department, which they were instructed to send to a shelter run by Life Esidemeni Hospital.
After the NGO refused to do this, demanding proof the transaction was legitimate, A Re Ageng claimed the account was hacked.
The ensuing court battles led to the shelter’s accounts being frozen and the department suspending its subsidy contract in January.
The NGO seeks to be paid by the end of this month.
Judgment has been reserved for Wednesday.