The Free State Department of Social Development denies claims that funding for the Sunflower House Hospice (St Nicholas Hospice) in Bloemfontein was reduced.
The department has provided proof of payment for the financial year of 2017-’18, which contradicts information given to employees by Richard Marston, managing director of the children’s hospice. Marston had allegedly told employees that the department has reduced its funding to the centre and cited this as the chief reason for not increasing wages or the stipends of all employees.
Aggrieved employees working as caregivers have cried out against a range of issues, like salaries of between R900 and R1 400 and alleged ill-treatment by Marston, who has declined to comment on the allegations.
Lerato Kapa, spokesperson for the department, says the St Nicholas Hospice has been approved for funding in the financial year 2017-’18 to the amount of R280 907, which is sustained and was never reduced.
“This amount gets paid quarterly. The first payment for the first quarter, which amounted to R70 227, was transferred on 16 May. There are 24 community caregivers in the organisation – 12 are paid by donors and 12 by the Department of Social Development,” says Kapa.
She says the 12 caregivers paid by donors work within the care centre (Sunflower House) and the 12 paid by the department work within the communities with vulnerable children in vulnerable households.
“Stipends funded by the Department of Social Development has never been disrupted.”
Kapa says the 12 caregivers rendering palliative care reported that they had been promised an increase, which was not given. She says a delegation of the department, led by Dithuso Monare, acting director, had held a meeting with two senior employees at the Sunflower House Hospice, Tshegofatso Taunyana and Melinda Muller, to get clarity following protest action, adding that the situation was normal.
Following intervention, disgruntled employees have temporarily stopped the protest while waiting for Marston to return to address their grievances.