Workers employed at the Vosloorus Society for Care of the Aged in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, have expressed their dismay and anger towards the Gauteng department of social development amid growing concerns about the closure of the centre.
This follows the recent arrest of manager Sechaba Mathenjwa for alleged theft.
READ: Manager arrested for theft of old age home funds
The department revealed that it was preparing to remove the elderly beneficiaries from the old age home to alternative centres.
According to department spokesperson Feziwe Ndwayana, a service-level agreement for the financial year April 1 2022 to March 2023 was not signed with the facility as a result of its “failure to account for funds provided to it by the department in the financial year 2021/22”.
In a statement, Ndwayana said:
“The reasons for not signing the agreement include unstable governance issues, which increase the risk of financial mismanagement, as well as non-compliance with registration in terms of section 18 of the Older Persons Act 13 of 2006.”
However, employees feel they are being victimised for opening a criminal case against the centre manager at the Vosloorus Police Station on April 13.
Mathenjwa was subsequently arrested for theft last month after allegedly stealing at least R500 000 meant to fund the centre.
READ: Healthcare workers shut down hospital as Gauteng health department pleads poverty
Following his first appearance at the Vosloorus Magistrates’ Court on June 2, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Louw Mjonondwane confirmed that the charges against the accused were of theft and fraud, and that there were close to 60 complainants.
The matter was remanded to June 6 for a formal bail application. Mathenjwa was granted R5 000 bail. The case was postponed to August 31.
A staffer, who has been a care worker at the centre for 10 years, told City Press that they had no choice but to take action against Mathenjwa:
“At the end of the day, we will be punishing the innocent elderly people if we just simply stop going to take care of them. Our fight was and is not with them, but with the centre manager who has been misusing funds meant for them and us.”
“But today it seems as if we are being punished for taking rightful action against Sechaba and his corrupt behaviour. It seems the department is fighting and punishing us. But we could not just sit back and do nothing.”
The centre houses almost 60 beneficiaries, many of whom are wheelchair-bound, suffer from dementia or are bed-ridden.
Said another worker:
City Press contacted Vosloorus Society for Care of the Aged board chairperson Mike Huma for comment. After asking to be called later, his phone went unanswered.
READ: Elderly evictees don’t want ‘rat infested’ temporary shelter as old age home application drags on
According to the minutes of a meeting held with various stakeholders, including representatives of the Gauteng department of social development and the centre’s board members, dated April 21, “cash withdrawals for May/June 2021 resulted in R48 000 in one quarter, and it is known that the organisation cannot withdraw [more than] R10 000 without repercussions”.
“The organisation currently owes R500 000 in loans, while another loan was requested in the past four days on behalf of the organisation by the centre manager.”