Michelle McLean Trust cancels fundraiser
Former Miss Universe, Michelle McLean-Bailey, will not be making a guest appearance at the prestigious annual Michelle McLean Children’s Trust (MMCT) Golf Day in December, after the event was cancelled because it is set to clash with the charity organisation’s multi-million dollar High Court battle with its former Executive Director Danie Botes.
The MMCT’s most lucrative fundraiser, which has been taking place at the Rossmund Golf Course for the past 13 years, has been put on ice, pending the finalisation of the court hearing.
The annual MCCT Golf Day, which started in Windhoek 17 years ago, draws players from around the country, as well as big name corporates and other potential sponsors.
Generous donations pour in at the event, which are then used to uplift some of Namibia’s most vulnerable children. Gert Cloete, who is the General Manager at the Rossmund Golf Club, told the Windhoek Observer that they are sad that they will not be hosting the golf day in December, but said they respect the decision to cancel it given the circumstances.
MMCT Trustee, Connie Maritz, who is running the affairs of the trust from a virtual office, after the legal shenanigans forced the organisation to close its Windhoek office, said that the fundraiser is set to clash with the High Court case, which starts on 21 November.
“We simply couldn’t juggle all the fundraising logistics leading up to the court date, and needed to prioritise our efforts,” she said.
The messy court battle, which started on 22 March this year in the Windhoek High Court, is between the trustees and Botes, who are suing each other for millions of dollars, amid self-enrichment allegations.
Maritz, who is holding the fort until a new executive director is appointed, said that the strain of the court case has taken its toll on everyone, but that they are looking forward to a positive outcome.
Botes, who was suspended in November 2013, after alleged irregularities emerged following a financial audit report, is on one hand suing McLean-Bailey, as the trust chairperson, and her fellow trustees for a total of N$14 million in damages and compensation.
He served in the executive director position since 1994.
According to court records, Botes is claiming N$12 million from the three trustees as damages, resulting from the termination of his employment, and N$2 million for pension contributions, which he claims the trust failed to pay into his pension fund.
The trustees, on the other hand, are countersuing Botes for about N$7,7 million claiming that during his tenure, there were “amounts withdrawn, transferred and paid in, contrary to his working agreement”.
McLean-Bailey, who now lives in Florida in the United States, will be jetting into Windhoek this month to visit two orphanages that have been earmarked by the trust.
The MMCT was created in 1992 primarily for educating young Namibian learners.
The trust also initiated and managed projects for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who donated funds towards assisting communities and underprivileged children in Namibia.