On September 24th I was awarded the prestigious Ekurhuleni Prize (runner up) at the long standing Thami Mnyele Fine Arts Awards. The awards were formerly known as the Ekurhuleni National Fine Arts Awards and were held at the Coen Scholtz Recreation Centre in Kempton Park.
With the award came a trophy, a certificate and some promotional gifts but one thing was missing, THE R40 000 CHEQUE. As far as I know, the municipality of Ekurhuleni funds the art competition and therefore the award recipients are required to do some paperwork on the night of the award ceremony. The paperwork is then sent to the municipality offices and then the cheque process begins. The cheque normally takes a week or two to process and the winners get their prize money (in a form of a cheque) when the exhibition closes (which is roughly two weeks after the grand opening night). I know this from experience because I was the recipient of the same award in 2014.
However, this year things did not go accordingly. Instead of getting my cheque at the end of the art competition exhibition, I had to wait for over three months to get it. Within those three months no one from the art competition bothered to contact me and give me reasons as to why the cheque was being delayed. In the first week of November (three months after the issuing of cheques) I decided to give them a call because I was starting to think that they had forgotten about my cheque.
When I tried calling the first time all the office numbers that were put on the competition brochure were not working and the ones that were working never got picked up. I then tried calling one of the competition’s representatives and his phone got picked-up by someone else (who is also a representative of the competition). At this point I was starting to have concerns about a potential fraud.
The gentleman I spoke with the first time gave me the cell numbers of the other gentleman I was trying to contact from the beginning. When I called him on his cellphone he told me that the cheque got misplaced and that they closed it and were in the process of reopening it. I was fine with the fact that the cheque got misplaced; I understood that, I know things do get lost sometimes. However, I failed to understand as to why it took them so long to process the cheque, why they never called me or email me in order to notify me of this? I am not a management expert but I knew this was poor management.
The man was supposed to give me a call on the following week after our first conversation over the phone to give me an update on the cheque issue. He did not bother to call me; I had to call him again. When I called him the second time, his story changed slightly. He told me that the cheque got stolen and that they were still processing it. The cheque process goes via the municipality office I mentioned earlier. He then told me to be patient, PATIENT? Perhaps I would have exercised my patience if I constantly got updates from them.
I then called a few more times and every time I called him, he kept telling me that he was working on the cheque. At this point I was certain that I would never get the cheque. I was certain that I was an art competition fraud victim. I then decided to speak out through social media, but I did not disclose the name of the of art competition, I was waiting for the day that the man had promised to issue out my cheque (which was +-4 days after the Facebook post I made).
A day after the Facebook post (which read: Art competition fraud story. Fullstoryonfridayafternoon) I got a missed call from the art competition representative for the first time. Him and I are friends on Facebook and I knew that he would see the Facebook post I made. However, he still did not bother to live a message or send an email or even a Facebook message since he was unable to reach me over the phone.
I got my cheque exactly four days after I made the Facebook post. I was more than ready to expose the art competition in every way possible had they not issued out the cheque on the day they had promised to issue it. I was even planning to open a case against them.
In conclusion, I am very disappointed at the poor service I got from the art competition. The management team did not do a good job in handling the R40 000 cheque case. They did not seem to care and they have poor communication skills. I hope this does not happen to any future recipients.