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Workers paid R1 billion but Mohlakeng Old Age Home still empty after six years

Gauteng MEC Morakane Mosupyoe. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Gauteng MEC Morakane Mosupyoe. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 21, 2022

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Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Social Development has admitted that it has spent more than R1 billion to pay workers at the Mohlakeng Old Age Home without working because there are no beneficiaries accommodated.

The DA in Gauteng said the old age home in Rand West had been empty and gathering dust for almost six years with no beneficiaries while the department had employed staff members who received salaries every month.

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The old age home was built at a cost of R43.5 million. Construction began in 2010 and was completed in July 2016. It was launched in April 2019.

The facility was meant to help elderly people who suffered from socio-economic problems and a lack of housing.

The facility is yet to be issued with an occupancy certificate as the building does not comply with the occupational health and safety standards. This was revealed by MEC Morakane Mosupyoe in a written reply to questions from the DA, tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature two weeks ago. According to Mosupyoe, the initial cost was R39m which was adjusted to R43.5m.

The facility was designed to accommodate up to 56 elderly people, but was never opened or utilised. “The home will be opened on receiving the occupancy certificate that will be issued by the municipality. Rand West is in the process of ensuring that the occupancy certificate is issued,” said Mosupyoe.

The DA Gauteng spokesperson for social development, Bronwynn Engelbrecht, also tabled questions to former MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi with regard to the facility in November 2020.

Mokgethi revealed that the employees started working on August 1, 2019.She said the salary bill for the staff since the opening amounted to R1 051bn.

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She said the facility was funded for 39 employees in various professional categories. They included a programme manager, an administrator, social worker, two auxiliary nurses, a staff nurse, 10 caregivers, three cooks, two laundry staff, one cleaner supervisor, one cook supervisor and one gardener.

Mokgethi said 14 employees had left to look for new opportunities.

Engelbrecht said the DA would table follow-up questions to ascertain how many employees were still employed at the facility, how much had been spent on their wage bill and what the scope of their work was.

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“We will also ascertain the progress … in fixing the infrastructure glitches and ensuring that the building is compliant with the occupational health and safety standards, and when an occupancy certificate will be issued.”

The department must be accountable for wasting taxpayers’ money by employing staff when there were no beneficiaries and no work to be done.

“We will fight to stop the abuse of taxpayers’ money and ensure that the vulnerable elderly people in Rand West are accommodated at this facility as they continue to suffer due to the shortage of elderly facilities in the area,” she said.

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