Farm workers at a Krugersdorp non-profit organisation live in squalor – even though the place they call home, funded by the Gauteng government, was intended to be a flagship of the province’s Sustainable Livelihood Programme Food Bank project to support the poor.
Far from being a crown jewel, on a recent visit City Press found workers at Carroll Shaw Memorial Centre, a farm in Krugersdorp, living in appalling conditions.
Hectares of land – meant to be cultivated to produce food for the poor – were lying fallow.
The Gauteng government announced in July that Carroll Shaw was among five non-profit organisations (NPOs) whose contracts would not be renewed this financial year following a recommendation by the provincial treasury.
Its preliminary investigation had uncovered mismanagement of funds at Carroll Shaw as well as Siyabonga Africa, Fountain of Life, Agelang Sechaba and Bokamoso Development Centre.
They were contracted by the provincial department of social development to supply food to at least 400 000 beneficiaries a year.
Other projects that fall under the programme include the School Uniform Project and Dignity Packs Programme. The latter provides sanitary pads to needy pupils.
Last month Gauteng social development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza announced that funds to procure food would no longer be allocated directly to NPOs, and that procurement would be done through supply chain processes instead.
July Maphosa, director of the Sustainable Livelihood Programme, resigned from the social development department in April.
His resignation came after City Press started asking questions relating to allegations of fraud, money laundering and racketeering against him in a matter that allegedly involved the irregular transfer of payments to NPOs.
Maphosa faces fraud charges in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Johannesburg.
City Press spoke to two sources familiar with operations at Carroll Shaw. One of them said workers had been badly treated by management over the years.
“They never complained about their poor salaries because they feared they might be thrown out on the street. They have nowhere to go. Workers were also not paid what was owing to them and not on time.”
The source said some of the workers had lived on the farm before it was bought by pastor Zachariah Motaung in the early 2000s and turned into an NPO.
It was also a place of safety for males who had been abused by their partners.
Both sources alleged that managers at Carroll Shaw were connected to officials of the department.
The other source said the board of directors suspended two managers – whose names are known to City Press – in the early 2000s. They were later reinstated due to “pressure that came from above”.
Gauteng provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said the contracts of the five NPOs remained unrenewed.
“The department refused to issue tenders through government’s supply chain processes as mandated by the Public Finance Management Act. Instead, it selected NPOs and gave them a lot of money to supply food.
“What these NPOs did instead was to contract private companies. The funding was provided by the department as grant funding, but was not used for that because these NPOs were acting as service providers.
“The treasury circular (issued on May 28 this year) states that these NPOs should instead be classified as service providers and there should be a fair and open tender process.
“Treasury says what the department has been doing is irregular,” said Masebe.
He added that the irregularities were not only happening in the Food Bank project but also in the School Uniform project.
Motaung referred questions to the public relations company PR Worx, saying it would speak on behalf of the five NPOs.
However, PR Worx account manager Karabo Molotsi said it only represented Siyabonga Africa and declined to comment on the matter.
“Please note that, after a thorough meeting between the department of social development, Premier David Makhura and the food banks on August 23 2018, the premier gave instructions to the food banks to refrain from commenting in the press as his office will be issuing a statement that will clarify both their position and the future of the Food Bank Programme,” said Molotsi.