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The continuing controversy over how the money raised for the medical treatment of burns victim Pippie Kruger was spent - including whether it paid for a beach house in Stilbaai - appears to have been shelved for now.
The Hawks have said they’ve probed the complaints of fraud in respect of the Pippie se Gesiggie fund, but have decided not to prosecute, considering the matter closed unless any new information comes to light.
Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko told Weekend Argus sister title the Sunday Tribune yesterday that the Hawks had launched an investigation into the fund after allegations of fraud. At the centre of the investigation was the R1.75 million beach house in Stilbaai, bought for cash in August 2012, which raised suspicions that the money was being misused.
“We investigated all these complaints and then took our information to the DPP (director of public prosecutions). We came to the decision not to prosecute.”
Ramaloko siad, however, the investigation had not ended there; the Hawks had also consulted further with other people who claimed to have information, but still nothing new came to light.
“This matter is closed now and will remain so unless witnesses come forward with different information – information that is not speculation,” he said.
The fund was set up in 2012 after the story of little Pippie attracted worldwide media attention. It was to help pay for the medical treatment necessary after the little girl suffered burns to 80 percent of her body when a bottle of fire gel exploded at a family braai on New Year’s Eve in 2011.
In June 2012 Pippie made world news when she became the first person in Africa to undergo a complicated skin transplant, using cloned skin grafts.
The cells were grown from her own cells in the US, flown to South Africa, and then transplanted on to her body.
Controversy marred the child’s recovery however, particularly around her parents Anice and Erwin Kruger’s alleged maladministration of the fund. At its inception, Pippie se Gesiggie was registered as a private company - Pippie se Gesiggie Pty (Ltd) - with Pippie’s parents and Anice’s mother, Loesje Barnard, as directors. A memorandum of intent was issued stating the directors’ intent to register the company as a non-profit organisation (NPO) in the same month.
Erwin admitted last week that the company was never registered as an NPO, despite it being presented as one on the fund’s website and in the media by family spokeswoman Lynne Zurnamer.
Other concerns were around the parents distributing their personal banking details widely on social media as the accounts into which donations should be made.
Then, last August allegations surfaced about the beach house, which is apparently in Erwin’s name.
Zurnamer told Huisgenoot in September that the house was bought by Erwin’s father.
“He put it in Erwin’s name with a clause that he could not sell or occupy it before the deaths of his mother and father.”
There are also conflicting reports regarding how much money has been donated to the so-called fund, with Anice telling Beeld in August that the fund had more than R3m. But last week Erwin backtracked, insisting it never contained more than R1.9m.
As the fund has never been audited, an exact figure is impossible to come by, but the list of several big donations, including more than R50 000 from Poppies for Pippie (Dolls for Pippie) and R18 000 from Ride for Pippie, point to significant cash flow into the accounts.
Meanwhile, the fund has paid for Celiwe Maseko, a five-year-old who suffered burns to 35 percent of her body, to undergo the same operation as Pippie had in April.
Its plans are to help a burn victim every year. - Sunday Argus