Foster organisation wants MEC held in contempt for failure to register homes

27 August 2021 - 06:48
By ernest mabuza AND Ernest Mabuza
An organisation which provides homes to orphaned children is going back to court to declare the Gauteng MEC of social development  in contempt of court for failing to register its three homes.
Image: 123RF/Artit Oubkaew An organisation which provides homes to orphaned children is going back to court to declare the Gauteng MEC of social development in contempt of court for failing to register its three homes.

It has been more than a year since African Havens, an organisation which provides homes to orphaned children, obtained an order from the Gauteng department of social development that three of its homes be registered.

However, this has not happened and African Havens has gone back to court to declare that the MEC of social development is in contempt of court for ignoring the order obtained in April last year.

The  application will be heard next month.

African Havens, which is registered as the Community Development Programme Trust, says the failure by the department to register three of its homes means that magistrates cannot place children in need of care into the homes that it administers.

“The effect of the failure to register is that magistrates are unwilling to place children with us. Whereas we had 50 children in eight homes in 2015, we now have 30 children in five homes,” said David Webb, chair of African Havens.

He said the failure by the department to register some of its homes meant children in need of care were not being helped.

Of the five remaining homes that are still registered , two are in Windsor East with 13 children, and three are in Florida with 17 children.

The organisation said it first approached the high court in Johannesburg in 2019 seeking assistance in addressing the delays and obstruction to registering three of their children’s homes.

“These are not a group of fly-by-night children’s homes that popped up out of nowhere but have served the province for the prior 16 years, caring for many hundreds of vulnerable children in foster care.”

African Havens said in all those 16 years since they started operating in 2003, there had been no hint of trouble at any of the homes or any valid reason given to reject their registrations.

“But year after year the department has stalled the process and demanded more changes.”

These included changes to the board, to the founding document, to the staff, until they abruptly sent word that registration was denied.

Webb said African Havens went to court and obtained an order on April 28 last year, which ordered the department to register the  homes.

Webb said he thought that after the order, the three homes would be registered.

This did not happen and African Havens went to court again for an order declaring that the MEC of social development was in contempt of the April order.

The department promised in December that the homes would be registered. This has not happened and African Havens wants the MEC to be declared in contempt. That application is set to be heard next month.

Questions were sent to the department for comment on why it was in contempt of court. The department initially promised to respond but on Thursday it refused to comment.

“Please note that the matter is still in the courts and therefore the department does not have any comments in this regard,” said Feziwe Ndwayana, spokesperson in the office of the MEC.

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