Social development suspends Amy Foundation funding

MEC Albert Fritz. Photographer: Ayanda Ndamane/ African News Agency(ANA)

The Department of Social Development has suspended funding to the Amy Foundation amid allegations of maladministration.

Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said: “The Department of Social Development has been forced to suspend funding to the organisation and has been trying to assist them to become compliant with the terms of their contract.”

According to Mr Fritz, the department had been told the foundation’s IT systems had been shut down and that its managing director, Kevin Chaplin, had left for the UK on Thursday November 20, while the foundation’s employees protested at the airport.

Elvis Sibuko, arts and culture programme co-ordinator from the foundation, said he and 20 of his colleagues had gone to Cape Town International to protest while Mr Chaplin had prepared to leave for a youth conference in London.

He said they had wanted to stop Mr Chaplin from leaving, but the police had intervened.

Mr Chaplin later cancelled his overseas trip and did not leave the country, according to Amy Foundation spokeswoman Michelle Bagley

Mr Fritz said the department conducted an “on-site monitoring and evaluation” visit to the foundation last Thursday to confirm whether it had in fact closed. It had also initiated a forensic audit after staff alleged funds had been mismanaged.

The foundation’s board closed its Sybrand Park offices, following protests by staff (“Foundation closes doors amid strike,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, November 22).

Maphelo Batyi, an academic programme coordinator for the foundation, said that last Monday, Mr Chaplin and chief operations officer Afiefa Behardien had seized some of the computers and documents from the Sybrand Park offices.

But Ms Bagley they had done that so they could continue to work away from the office.

“We needed computers to process salaries and respond to emails and keep operations running despite the temporary closure of the office. It is one of several false allegations that are causing reputational damage to the foundation,” said Ms Bagley.

Mr Chaplin said he was “surprised” by the Department of Social Development’s response because it had done an audit in June this year.

“While we welcome another audit, I don’t believe it is the most prudent use of public funds to conduct two audits in five months,” he said.

Mr Chaplin said he strongly refuted allegations of maladministration or misappropriation of public funds, and the audit will prove them to be false.

“The foundation does not infringe any contract with the department, as there is no current contract in place. The last contract ended in March this year. I am very happy to show the department that the reason for non-compliance was a direct result of outsourcing the compliance to NGOs who do not have the necessary bureaucratic competence to conduct the requirements timely and efficiently,” he said.

“I am taken aback by Mr Fritz’s change of sentiment toward the Amy Foundation. He visited the foundation in May and was very impressed with our work. His department, in partnership with Impumelelo, awarded the foundation the Ministerial Youth Excellence Award in 2016, and we were the runner-up in 2017,” said Mr Chaplin.

Mr Sibuko and his colleagues will be appearing in the Labour Court on today, Thursday November 29 to oppose an interdict brought by the Amy Foundation against its employees.