DearSA removes director Rob Hutchinson over alleged financial irregularities

Rob Hutchinson Picture: Facebook

Rob Hutchinson Picture: Facebook

Published Feb 10, 2021


Cape Town – The battle for control over popular public participation platform DearSA rages on, with the campaign’s board resolving to remove Rob Hutchinson as a director, alleging financial irregularities.

In a statement this week, directors Sandra Dickson, Ted Blom and Mike Heyns said they had with immediate effect dissociated themselves from any activity by Hutchinson on behalf of the non-profit company (NPC) as well as the website.

“This is a direct result of issues around the management of the NPC’s finances, bank account and financial irregularities. The bank account was frozen until such time the matter is resolved,” they said.

Hutchinson has since brought an application to unfreeze the account to the Western Cape High Court.

“Subsequently the website was negatively affected when the DearSA NPC’s bank account number was removed and replaced with an alternate account number that does not belong to DearSA NPC.

“After Hutchinson refused to remove it, the matter was reported to the Internet Service Providers Association (Ispa). A ‘take-down’ notice was issued by Ispa to the host company of the website. Since the notice, the website was moved to another host not affiliated to Ispa.

“The moving of the website was done without DearSA board approval and the site is thus still up and running with the same non-approved content.”

DearSA NPC was therefore suspending all open campaigns and dissociated itself from further fund-raising efforts on the website until further notice.

“Legal action to recoup misappropriated funds and expenses will follow once a forensic review is completed. All debit orders in favour of DearSA NPC are currently held in a suspense account and are secure.”

A “suspension and pre-termination charge sheet” sent to Hutchinson included allegations of forgery of signatures, deliberately withholding documents including bank statements, that Hutchison had paid himself “random salaries” and fraudulent expenditure for personal expenses.

In response, Hutchinson said the DearSA NPC was preceded by a private company registered on June 6, 2018, five months before the three current directors (Hutchinson, Blom and Dickson) bought over the shelf non-company and renamed it DearSA.

He said the ongoing dispute arose in March last year after a board meeting where audited financial statements were presented, but Hutchinson said he did not provide further detailed bank statements at the time, eliciting questions from the board.

Steps were then taken to close the bank accounts of DearSA, he said.

“Coincidentally, the dispute raised by Blom and Dickson only came about after DearSA secured a grant ... in the amount of R847 471,” he said.

He denied allegations of wrongdoing, saying to date no evidence had been produced. He further alleged the members aimed to circumvent him to access the grant funds.

Hutchinson said bank statements were provided by Hurter Spies Inc on request.

“Since October 2018 … both Blom and Dickson were involved in the non-profit company in de facto non-executive roles. Until this day (they) continue to be uninvolved in the operations.

“They are misusing their majority as board members to ensure that DearSA NPC ceases to function and render it unable to fulfil its objectives and mission statement.”

Cape Times

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