News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
24 Nov 2017
6:37 am

Court dashes Everest bid

Ilse de Lange

Afrika Freedom Climbers take Lotteries Commission to court over rejection of its multimillion-rand funding request.

Picture: Thinkstock

The dream of nonprofit organisation Afrika Freedom Climbers (AFC) to get more than R19.7 million from the national lottery to train and send a black woman up the highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everest, have been dashed by the High Court in Pretoria.

The organisation took the Lotteries Commission to court after its application for funding was turned down last year.

But Judge Neil Tuchten this week dismissed its application to set aside the decision. The organisation previously received a R3 million grant for a Mount Everest expedition, but the project could not be completed as a massive earthquake hit the Himalayan region during the expedition in 2015.

Thereafter, they sought further funding of more than R19.7 million, but were turned down for not providing the information that was requested.

In terms of regulations for the distribution of lottery funds, sport nonprofit organisations may only apply for funding of up to R500 000. AFC sought over R19 million to train a black woman to summit the highest peaks on all the continents of the world, to send five previously disadvantaged women with her to Everest and to conduct a school project to motivate children.

The judge said it appeared AFC had responded rudely to the distributing agency’s repeated requests for more information, accusing it of being unable to read.

When AFC threatened to involve the media in its dispute after its internal appeal was turned down, its representatives were invited to a meeting at which they were told why their project could not be funded.

Tuchten said the meeting degenerated into acrimony when the commission demanded AFC change its attitude and make amends. AFC launched its court application 10 months later to overturn the dismissal of its appeal and to order the commission to reconsider its R19 million request.

The judge said as AFC only asked for R500 000 on the form on which it submitted its grant application, this bordered on frivolous.

He dismissed all of AFC’s grounds for review, saying the 2015-16 budget had already been spent, there was no good reason to require the commission to reopen the earlier budget and there was no reason why AFC could not apply for a new grant.

– ilsedl@citizen.co.za

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