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Caregiver seeks legal advice over unpaid grants

An Alexandra woman, who has been providing a place of safety for homeless children, is furious after she was paid only R4 253 in December instead of the R20 000 she believes is owed to her.

Matshidiso Seruwe – owner and the founder of Legae La Bana, an organisation that is providing a place of safety for vulnerable children in Alexandra – says she has not been fairly paid the money due to her by the Department of Social Development.

She says the money owed to her is the accumulation of unpaid Temporary Safety Care Grants for 13 children she is accommodating. For each child she is entitled to claim R16,50 per day. The amount was increased because two of the children died, meaning that there were added burial costs.

“I had to use my own money to bury those kids. Now when I ask to be reimbursed it’s a problem. I nearly closed down last year because of these financial challenges,” she said.

But she has now acquired the services of a lawyer through children’s court at the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court and hopes her matter will be processed speedily and she will be paid correctly.

Meets all criteria

Seruwe said her organisation is registered, she meets all the criteria and complies with the requirements stipulated for those who take children into care as non-compliance can be an impediment to getting their grants paid.

“Yes, I’m looking at the possibility of helping her get the money once I have studied all the relevant documentation,” said her legal representative. Norman Khumalo, who was hired by the department to investigate several youth and children’s homes in Johannesburg, has confirmed that Seruwe’s home is fit to host children.

“Sometimes you would find there are no homes or children in care, yet someone is claiming money from the department,” he said.

However, an inside source at the department with intimate knowledge of Seruwe’s case has a different view. She said Seruwe was not claiming the money monthly as she was supposed according to the law, and would instead wait to make a larger claim.

“That’s totally against our finance policy. I tried to motivate for the release of her money, but I failed,” she said, adding that the matter had been passed up to director level where it would be attended to.

Seruwe denies ever contravening the policy and says the blame is being shifted.

When contacted for comment, Mbangwa Xaba, speaking on behalf of Social Development said they were aware of the Seruwe’s case and were hoping to pay her soon. 

An edited version of this story was also published on The Star

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