Court orders Gauteng government to pay children’s homes subsidies by Friday afternoon

The order gives Epworth Children’s Homes and Bethany House Trust a “lifeline” until the end of September

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The Gauteng Department of Social Development has left many organisations in the lurch this year by failing to pay subsidies on time. Illustration: Lisa Nelson

The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday ordered the provincial social development department to pay subsidies to Epworth Children’s Homes and Bethany House Trust from Friday afternoon.

In an urgent matter brought before the court the two organisations argued that the order was necessary to keep their doors open.

Judge Thina Siwendu ruled that the department must

  • pay Epworth and Bethany their respective subsidies, the first of which must be paid by 4pm on 31 May;
  • extend the organisations’ existing service-level agreements 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 the funding applications for some of Bethany’s programmes; and
  • enter negotiations with Epworth and Bethany to conclude outstanding service-level agreements before the end of September.

The homes are among many non-profit organisations that were left in limbo due to lengthy delays by the department in finalising the allocation of welfare funding and subsidy payments.

Earlier this year, Epworth was forced to close its home in Germiston because it had run out of funds.

For Bethany, the court order serves as “a lifeline for a few months”, said Gert Jonker, its chief executive officer.

The department reneged on its deadline to finalise service-level agreements and pay organisations by 24 May, saying a court order handed down by Judge Ingrid Opperman last week “supersedes” its earlier commitment.

The order handed down by Judge Opperman compels the department to conclude service-level agreements by 30 May and to pay them within seven days of the agreements being signed. But, some organisations told GroundUp that they are still waiting to conclude agreements with the department.

TOPICS:  Children Social Development mismanagement

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Dear Editor

Children are the losers of this NGO funding crisis. Food is expensive and the Covid-19 pandemic has made the county's economic recovery impossible.

Truthfully, going to courts to enforce payments from reduced provincial budgets is an empty victory and opening the affected NGOs to victimisation.

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