Legal experts acting for the Sparrow Rainbow Village in Johannesburg are fighting the Johannesburg council over a R2,6 million bill for water and other services received by the hospice that cares for 240 Aids orphans.
The orphanage was founded 17 years ago by the Rev Corinne McClintock to provide free care to children orphaned by Aids and to care for 40 adults with the disease.
Earlier this year the Johannesburg council took Sparrow to court demanding payment and the judge hearing the case ordered Sparrow to pay. McClintock says she was coerced into paying R500 000 to the council and to sign an agreement undertaking to pay the balance.
Now, a firm of attorneys has agreed to take on her case pro bono while the council has put the matter on hold. Apparently the problems started for Sparrow in 2007 when the average bill from the council was about R30 000 a month.
Suddenly, without warning, Sparrow received a bill for R500 000 even though McClintock insists that the water meter outside the property had not been read for at least three years and perhaps more.
She says that numerous phone calls and visits to the council failed to resolve the matter so Sparrow hired an attorney to sort out the matter but this failed.
Various discrepancies have already been uncovered by the new group of attorneys acting for Sparrow and the most significant of these is that Sparrow has been sued on the basis of interim readings, which is illegal.