After having been through some seriously rough patches lately, East London Senior Citizens Association (ELSCA) chairperson Topper Whitehead wants everyone to know that they are once again “open for business”.
The non-profit organisation, whose stated goal is helping poor and needy senior citizens find homes, has been beset with financial difficulties after the mass resignation of senior members.
“In February, the board resigned en masse, and the auditors resigned in March,” Whitehead said.
“Two senior members of management – the only two that controlled the finances – resigned later that month as well.”
This left only three board members – one of which was Whitehead – remaining.
Then two days later, one of the remaining board members suffered a heart attack, while the other left soon thereafter.
Whitehead was going it solo.
“So I’m left with this very sick baby,” he said.
To make matters worse, an examination of ELSCA’s finances in the aftermath revealed that the organisation was in debt to the tune of approximately R4.5m.
“Our creditors were R2.3m, of which 50% were more than 90 days old,” Whitehead said.
There were also more than R2m worth of unauthorised loans made out in ELSCA’s name.
“Our annual turnover is R25m, so to have a nearly R5m debt is just unacceptable,” he said.
According to Whitehead, a forensic audit has been conducted but he could not say more at the time.
However, he was confident that ELSCA’s future was much brighter.
“The mismanagement of the past is gone,” he said.
In addition to electing a new board, the organisation was also able to halt the sale of one of their properties, Manor House, located on St Georges Road in Southernwood.
“By closing Manor House down, there would have been 60 people without a home,” he said.
“We’ve since pulled the plug on the sale and the purchaser has agreed to waive the signed agreement.”
In return, the purchaser has first option if Manor House is ever put up for sale again in future.
The association is also calling for new members to take up empty residences in both Manor House and Fairlands Retirement Village in Cambridge.
For more information, those interested should contact manager Glynis De Kock at 043-051-2283.
“Everything is against us, except our will to fix it,” Whitehead said.