Durban children’s home in dire need after municipal, food debt soars to R2m
Andile Ncamana, 31, was appointed its director in October last year after three months as a social worker there.
Ncamana said it was only when he took over as director that he was able to look at the books.
“We were slapped with a R617 000 municipal bill which had not been paid since August 2017, and recently we learnt that it was now over R1 million, including rates.
“There is also a R1.1million catering bill, but we have reached an agreement to pay the catering company R30 000 a month.”
He said they received a monthly subsidy of R2600 a child from the Social Development Department, which largely went towards salaries.
Ncamana claimed the department cut their subsidy last year, without prior discussion, when the centre had 120 children, to pay for 90 children.
“In December, we received a donation of R105000, which could pay the monthly bills. In January, we received R120000 from VAT. In February, we received R80000 through fund-raising, and in March we again received money from VAT which paid the bills,” he said.
Ncamana tried to cut costs by no longer allowing house mothers to live on the property with their families, stopping the catering service and hiring an in-house chef, and cleaners at minimum wage.
Prior to that, the catering company was paid R78 000 a month.
“In April and May, we were not able to pay for water and electricity because there has been no luck from VAT and donations. We won’t be able to pay this month,” he said.
The director said they had approached the eThekwini Municipality about their debt and he was told they would have to pay half the amount before the municipality would be open to negotiations on payment.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the city would not discuss a customer’s account with a third party.
Mayisela said: “As a caring city, eThekwini Municipality has a debt- relief programme where residents and/or customers are encouraged to come forward and make arrangements to pay off their outstanding debt in terms of the Municipality’s Credit Control and Debt Collection Policy.
“This can be done by visiting their nearest Sizakala Centre for further information.”
Ncamana said if their doors closed, the children would be placed in other centres which were already full.
The centre houses children between the ages of 2 and 19.
Social Development Department head Nokuthula Khanyile said the subsidy was cut because “whenever we went to the centre, there were less than 90 children, instead of the 120 the centre was being funded for. The department funded children they found, which was less than 90”.
Khanyile added that the centre received R2.6m from the department in 2017/18, and R2.9m in 2018/19.
Ncamana appealed for help: “We’re hoping someone can see that we are in dire straits and need saving. We appreciate what the donors bring, but what we need is a cash flow to run the place.
“There is only a certain distance the government subsidy can cover. We have to scrounge for the rest. I’m hoping there is a soul out there who will feel for these children and donate.
“We don’t want the cash in our hands. Whoever can help can pay the money straight to the municipality,” he said.