Al-Noor orphanage: Manager allegedly bragged to staff about getting 'anything you want in SA for a price'

2019-07-11 19:18
Children protest outside court in support of the Al Noor orphanage. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Children protest outside court in support of the Al Noor orphanage. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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The manager of a Cape Town orphanage, who faces fraud and corruption allegations, allegedly boasted about buying her citizenship, the Cape Town Magistrate's Court heard on Thursday.

The 49-year-old appeared in a black tracksuit, red headscarf and takkies for her bail application, which the State opposed because it believed she was a flight risk.

Prosecutor Adiel Jansen read out an affidavit by the investigating officer, Hawks Captain Michael Darries in which he stated that the accused's existence and stay in South Africa was "based on a lie" as he had uncovered fraud with her citizenship.

He said she conspired with at least two others in that she had two separate "marriages of convenience". Darries also detailed alleged fraud and theft at the orphanage which he uncovered after raiding the facility.

"She even bragged to staff that 'You can get anything you want in South Africa for a price'. She also bragged about buying her citizenship," Darries stated in the affidavit.

The Cameroonian national, who ran the Al-Noor Child and Youth Care Centre, faces a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud and three of contravening the Immigration Act.

The social development department removed 17 children from the facility on the back of allegations of physical and sexual abuse. It coordinated efforts to reunite the children with their "immediate family" after the centre was shut down.

She is not being named as she faces potential sexual offence charges. Other charges are expected to be added soon.

In an affidavit for bail, which was read out by her lawyer Andre Johnston, she shared the effect that incarceration was having on her two daughters (aged five and 19), her poor health and her financial commitments of around R11 000 a month.

She also said she intended pleading not guilty as she believed she had not committed any offences.

In the affidavit, Darries stated the reasons why he thought it was too risky for her to be released on bail.

He said that still hanging over her head was a three year jail term in 2015 for forgery and fraud, which was wholly suspended for five years on condition she not been convicted of a similar offence.

She was found to have forged documents for a R100 000 loan at Capitec in Woodstock, he said in the affidavit.

Darries confiscated her Toyota Quantum vehicle and the orphanage "kombi", which was supposed to be registered to the business but was instead in her name.

He believed the vehicle had not been used for the benefit of staff or the orphanage.

In the same vein, he said the accused was renting a house from PRASA, which the orphanage was paying for. The accused was apparently sub-letting it.

Also under scrutiny was the numerous donations to the orphanage that amounted to hundreds of thousands of rands.

Darries questioned how she could sustain her lifestyle on her salary. 

In conclusion, he said Home Affairs was in the process of declaring her an undesirable person and the accused allegedly intended to sell up in South Africa.

"I have credible information that she will flee at the first opportunity," he stated. He had reason to believe her husband, who was in Nigeria, had told her to come there as he was building two houses for her. 

The State asked for a postponement as it needed time to look at her affidavit and make changes to an affidavit in his possession if necessary.

The defence objected and handed up correspondence between itself and Home Affairs from 2016 to indicate that the facts of this matter had been known for a while already.

Magistrate Reaz Khan asked Jansen whether the Home Affairs official in court had seen this correspondence.

Jansen replied that the official had never seen them before and that they weren't addressed to him.

Khan postponed the bail application to Monday for further evidence.

Read more on:    orphans  |  town  |  cape  |  fraud
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