A home for the destitute has come under the spotlight after complaints were received.
The Beitun-Nur Society for the Destitute in Schaapkraal was closed in December because of “unhealthy conditions and unsafe structures” and the alleged discovery of pornography on a computer there.
Meanwhile, two men at the centre of the controversy surrounding the home stepped down from their positions at a media briefing at the home on Tuesday January 7.
Members of the home accused the men of appointing themselves without authorisation as chairperson and administrator.
They were also accused of misappropriating the home’s funds and placing cameras in the complex and in prayer rooms.
Zona Morton, spokesperson for Beitun-Nur Crisis Committee, said the board were refused access to the property or any information about the facility by the members who stepped down.
“We regret as members of the board that we in good faith allowed the Beitun-Nur Home for destitute children between ages of 4 and 17 to deteriorate like this. We
were caught up in our own disputes and did not act seriously and effectively first and foremost in the best interest of the children due to us not having access to the Beitun-Nur,” she said.
Ms Morton said the board has asked for external assistance from the South African Human Rights Commission and the Department of Social Development.
“As we are a religious organisation we feel exploited and misused and extorted. With our inactiveness after we resigned we discovered that we were never removed as board members,” said Ms
She said the current management without communication then appointed themselves to manage Beitun-Nur.
“With all this we uncovered that the destitute children were put in the care of family members that in the first place could not see to their needs and placed with caregivers that were appointed at Beitun Nur without being qualified care givers or registered either,” she said.
Ms Morton added that the premises is in a bad state.
The facility has since been reopened.
The Department of Social Development will be investigating the complaints received about the facility.
Sharna Fernandez, MEC of Social Development, said the department received several calls and messages about the home.
“I can confirm that we were alerted last week to a situation that is receiving our urgent and ongoing attention. The
Department of Social Development’s key focus is to ensure that we act in the best interest of the children. DSD is working closely with the complainants and all the relevant stakeholders. The team out on the
ground and the department’s officials will leave no stone unturned regarding this matter,” said Ms Fernandez.
She added that various issues around the governance and any other related matters, including the financial affairs of the home, need to be addressed.
“While Beitun-Nur is a registered NPO, they are not registered with DSD in the province and do not receive funding from our department. A detailed statement will follow once the investigation has been completed.
“The protection of children, a key priority area for the Department of Social Development, is something that must be driven all year round and requires action from the whole of society. All of us need to be doing far more to prevent cases of child abuse, neglect and murder,” she said.