NPO’s called to order
Over the past few years, the media has been reporting on churches that are meant to bring healing and help to communities, but which have now become a business venture seemingly misleading those seeking spiritual growth. An example is the ongoing case of the infamous Pastor Timothy Omotoso who is currently on trial for raping, kidnapping and holding young girls hostage at his house in Umhlanga Rock, Durban.
The Department of Social Development (DSD) held a religious seminar at Horseshoe Motel on Wednesday to educate church leaders about non-profit (NPO) organizations, complying with the NPO act and creating awareness on the vulnerability of the NPO sector on issues pertaining to money laundering and terrorism financing, as well as to gain an understanding of the challenges affecting the sector.
DSD has a mandate to administer the NPO act 97 of 1997 as amended and its directorate was established to deal with regulatory matters of all nonprofit organizations as stipulated in the NPO act.
According to the NPO register as of June 2019 compiled by DSD, the Northern Cape has 4672 registered NPO’s while 2655 are not compliant leaving 944 complying with the NPO act.
NPO register at DSD, Lindi Madlala states that the religious sector plays an important role towards addressing social ills of communities.
“The religious sector plays an important role towards addressing social ills of communities and the department commits to provide support in ensuring that the organizations are run in an accountable and effective manner”.
The church leaders were informed that it is important to comply with the provisions of their own founding documents. Lilly Mswane of the National Department of Social Development explained that proper categorization of the faith based missions is important as it gives a guideline on how it should operate, “Proper categorization of the faith based missions is important as it gives a guideline to operate according to its organizational structure and mechanism for its governance. And also operating according to the stipulated powers of the organizations”.
The NPO act (s17 and 18) requires that organizations submit to the NPO directorate an annual report within nine months after the end of its financial year, totaling 21 months from the beginning of the financial year end to submission deadline. Pastors tend to take whatever gifts or tithing that is presented to the church as their own without accounting for it in the financial books.
“Tithe belongs to the NPO and needs to be audited as it does not belong to the pastors. The date of the financial year must be decided on and accounted for, so that when the church dissolves it is to state what will happen to the property of the church”, Lilly Mswane reiterated.
Delportshoop deacon was grateful for the seminar as she claims it has taught her a lot though she wished the department could have touched more on funding as man churches are struggling to stay afloat.
“I’m grateful for the seminar because it has taught me a great deal more than what I knew. It would have been more beneficial however if they touched more on funding. They should look into hosting another seminar about funding as there are tons of churches really struggling to keep afloat”.
The church leaders left the seminar excited about improving and complying with the NPO’s guidelines.