The Children of Fire Trust and its founder are suing and Debora Patta, of the programme 3rd Degree, for R5 million after allegedly defamatory programmes were aired in August and December 2006.

According to papers filed in the Johannesburg High Court, the charity felt that due to the image portrayed by 3rd Degree, the trust had lost donations and suffered damage to its good name amounting to R3m.

Bronwen Jones, a trustee and founder of Children of Fire, who was interviewed by Patta, is suing for R2m for damage to her reputation.

A spokesman for, Vasili Vass, said they would defend the action.

Children of Fire takes care of burn victims by supplying medical help and education.

Some children are also housed at the charity while receiving treatment.

In court documents, the charity claimed that 3rd Degree had alleged that Jones was not distributing donations to children in the charity's care.

The programme also alleged that Jones handed out expired food.

Patta, the presenter, said 3rd Degree had uncovered "shocking evidence that blankets and donations meant for burn victims were collecting dust" in Jones's house.