Takalani officials to be probed over funds

THE management of the Takalani Home for the Mentally Disabled in Diepkloof, Soweto, has been ordered to leave office until an investigation against them has been concluded.

Yesterday Johannesburg high court Judge Boycie Mbha ruled in favour of Gauteng health and social development MEC Qedani Mahlangu, who had filed an urgent application for the temporary removal of the board pending a probe into allegations of mismanagement of funds.

The Avril Elizabeth Home has been appointed administrator of Takalani until a forensic investigation by the department has been completed.

Director Lynnette van Rooyen and former chairperson Samuel George are accused of mismanagement of funds meant for running the home.

Mahlangu based the application on audit reports going back as far as 10 months ago.

The reports point to "terrible living conditions at the home, gross mismanagement of funds and government funds used for personal gain".

The home's lawyer, Mpilo Dlamini, argued that the MEC had no right to interfere with the running of Takalani because it was a private institution. Dlamini also argued that money in the home's coffers could be accounted for.

In response, the MEC's lawyer, Thabiso Mashaba, argued that the department was directly involved because it poured money into the institution four times a year.

"In March the department picked up that R2million was donated to the home by a private donor. R1,5million of that money was immediately transferred to an unknown account," Mashaba said.

"We are concerned that funds we put into the institution might suffer the same fate. We pay on a quarterly basis, while Sassa makes payments monthly."

Making the ruling, Mbha said: "You argue and say it is a private institution, so what? The court is the upper guardian of all children - they must be taken care of properly.

"Who better to bring this application than the Minister of Health and Social Development. The case has been made, this is an urgent matter, the investigation should continue," the judge said.