Belgian aid-worker writes Zulu novel

More than 14-million black South Africans get billions of Rands worth of food-aid, monthly benefits, and free housing from the government each year: (benefits which are all denied to poor whites, by the way).  The question must be asked: why does the South African government and the NGOs under its direct control, still demand billions of Rands in charity and development-aid funding from abroad — when their black voters so clearly no longer need it?

 For example: why does the Khulani Simunye charity even exist?

Gys Gunter BelgianCharityWorker WRONG FOUNDATION OF LOVE ZULU CULTURE BOOK For example: Khulani Simunye is/was a ‘non-governmental’ charity in KwaZuluNatal which helped impoverished, unregistered Zulus obtain legal registration papers so that they could get on the charity rolls.  Its charity-workers’ jobs were to negotiate and  intervene on  behalf of poor illerate people with local government agencies. 

In reality, Western charity workers such as the Belgian Gunther Gys, author of the new book ‘ Wrong Foundations of Love ’ – a real-life novel about Zulu culture, however usually up having to beg for money from abroad with constant demands for food, housing, rent-payments, school-fees. Often such Western charity workers end up spending most of their own resources and energy looking after a growing host of needy individuals – often because they have little knowledge of local culture, and frequently misunderstand what is expected of them. Little wonder then that the foreign funding for the SA charity Khulani Simunye went on the rails after Gys left its employ after four years and started up his own charity – by then he was thoroughly and openly disgusted with the incompetence of government agencies. And suddenly the young Belgian charity director found himself in court: where he had to prove his innocence after false accusations of trumped-up paededophilia-charges, of which he was acquitted after a year-long, very harrowing trial.

Outspoken Belgian Aid worker became an embarrassment to local-level ANC-leaders:

For despite the fact that under SA law one is presumably innocent until the State proves you guilty, it was Gunther Gys who had to prove that totally false accusations were lodged, purportedly by a ‘jealous mother’ who had forced her young son to lie to the investigating police. 

However there was  also another political aspect to this case: the outspoken Gys also was clearly becoming an embarrassment to the local-level ANC-leaders…06mei2010_DailyNews (2)

‘South Africa is a joke on the world-map…’ – Gunther Gys

After four years of dealing with government agencies, Gys had become so  disillusioned, that he not only told this to everyone he knew inside and outside the country, but also publicly announced that he was writing a book about it:   “There is not one (government) agency which functions properly,” he wrote me a year ago;  “You actually cannot imagine the way this government runs the country. South Africa is registered as a joke on the world-map. Not one service works any more: Home Affairs, SAPS , Social Development, Housing, Transport, Financial departments,  not one department functions properly”. And he should know: he had personal dealings with each of these departments in his battle to obtain legal documentation for his charges at Khulani Simunye for four years…

Western charity workers give up ‘because of cultural differences’..

The next charity worker dispatched to Khulani Simunye from Europe, a woman named Lilian, also gave up after six months ‘because of cultural differences’. The charity now apparently languishes: the local ANC-leaders have taken over the functions of the ‘non-governmental-organisation’, especially after the recent local-government elections, when they were very keen to get as many voters on the voters- and welfare-rolls as possible.

Gys’ devastating experience is a typical example of the kind of cultural clash which occurs because Western aid-workers don’t recognise the early-warning signs due to the often vast cultural differences which exist between both worlds…

‘Dysfunctional goverment departments:’

Gys Gunter BelgianCharityWorker WRONG FOUNDATION OF LOVE ZULU CULTURE BOOK After his year-long plight – financially strapped waiting for his trial to end –  Gys returned to Belgium, where his adopted son has since then also joined him. However, Gys first published a novel – about the devastating effects the macho-Zulu culture has on its women; the fight by one woman to overcome the social stigmas attached to womanhood. His book, “Wrong Foundation of Love’ – available through Amazonshould make a terrific movie: if filmmakers can get permission from the ‘culturally-sensitive’ residents to film in this empoverished region.

Western Aid workers should get Gunther Gys’ book Wrong Foundations of Love before going to South Africa:

Moreover, any Western charities who plan on dispatching Western aid-workers to South Africa should all purchase this book enmasse as required reading – well before their departure:

Gys’ novel takes a very sympathetic look at Zulu culture: but also shows the great many pitfalls which often create so many cultural clashes between the recipients and the dispensers of welfare and development-aid. 

Gys’ devastating experiences in South Africa are a perfect example: the young liberal Belgian was keenly dedicated to ‘helping poor black South Africans uplift themselves’, he told me – and in fact he still remains so today.  He went there will the best of intentions, yet his devastating experiences amongst the Zulus showed that good intentions just aren’t enough. Importantly, one needs to be armed with a great deal of knowledge about the very different culture one has to deal with each day – and it helps a great deal to learn the language before departure, too.

‘ Her life was not easy due to cultural differences ’

After Gunter Gys left Khulani Simunye due to ‘cultural differences’ and launched his own charity, obtaining funding from Belgium instead, things went even more downhill:  the next welfare worker who was dispatched as a liaison between the South African charity and its  Dutch donors, also a highly motivated young woman, tried hard, but it wasn’t enough: This young woman, Lilian, ‘did her very best for six months, but her life was not easy due to cultural differences,’ noted the blog for Khulani Simunye, adding:  “We thus have to suspend the activities for  Khulani Simunye in South Africa because a suitable local replacement also could not be found”.


Flashback to May 6, 2010 – 

Belgian welfare-agency director Gunter Gys, 41,  left without any income for a year in SA with his adopted son, proving that a jealous  Zulu woman had plotted against the outspoken Belgian aid-worker…

imagePINETOWN KZN – Belgian welfare-worker Gunter Gys, 41, who was today found not guilty of a trumped-up sex-charge lodged by a nine-year-old boy and his mother in a jealousy-inspired conspiracy, said that ‘jealousy and revenge were behind this entire sex-crime accusation”.  He also can’t wait to get out of South Africa after his long ordeal while awaiting trial, he told Censorbugbear-Reports and hopes to leave this month with his adopted son.

Dysfunctional government agencies:
While awaiting his trial, he started writing a book about the dysfunctional government agencies he’s had dealings with for four years.  He has since returned to Belgium, he said after his acquittal at the Pinetown Sexual Offences Court on May 6 2010 by magistrate Bilkish Asmal

Magistrate: ‘Gys’ defence of a conspiracy against him was confirmed by two witnesses…’
His case was postponed endlessly – 17 times within a fear-filled year. Gys was arrested in February 2009 and fortunately the Belgian government obtained his releases on bail the very next day. His day-to-day welfare also was closely monitored by the Belgian government’s representatives.  And on May 6, 2010, after he was released after his innocence was proven unequivocably, he felt completely vindicated, he said, after hearing the verdict by magistrate Bilkish Asmal.

Supported by UK group which helps those false accused of sexual offences…
Throughout his ordeal, he was supported by a group in the UK which helps and advise those who are falsely accused of sexual offences. Their administrator commented today that ‘all the members who have “talked” with him on the online site have always been impressed with his courage throughout, especially the support his son has given him. “We are all proud to have “know” him and I look forward to the time when he and his son will visit us here in England. This is the best possible outcome for Gunter (and his family) and I sincerely hope that he is successful in applying for and obtaining proper and adequate financial recompense for the horror he has gone through, not to mention the fact that he has had to live on the goodwill of his friends and family. Well done Gunter, and well done your immensely brave son who has stood by him. Now is the time to heal my friend!” the UK charity wrote afterwards:

Inconsistencies in the testimony of the boy and his mother…

GysGunterAcquittalTheMercuryMay72010 STORY (2)The Mercury reported that the charges related to incidents that the boy claimed in testimony before the court had taken place at Gys’s home in December 2008. The boy, who cannot be named, had been staying with Gys because his mother was ill. Gys became acquainted with the family while he was working at a charity organisation in the area. However Magistrate Asmal ruled that “there were various inconsistencies in the testimony of the boy and his mother which had been pointed out by the defence.” She also added that Gys had “maintained his denial of the allegations against him and claimed that the boy’s mother had fabricated the allegations because she wanted to destroy him.

He told me shortly after his trial last year that he felt as if a heavy load has been lifted from him. All that time he had been surviving on loans from his family throughout the duration of the trial.  While he never believed this himself, there could also have been a ‘political motive” surrounding this case.

If he had been found guilty and was sent to the horrors of a South African prison, the Belgian youth-worker would also have been greatly discredited regarding the expose he had announced to everyone he knew, he was writing about his experiences with all the government agencies in South Africa — he became very disillusioned after his frequent dealings with all the government agencies over the past four years: “There is not one (government) agency which functions properly,” he wrote us a year ago: “You actually cannot imagine the way this government runs the country. South Africa is registered as a joke on the world-map. Not one service works any more: Home Affairs, SAPS , Social Development, Housing, Transport –  Financial departments,  not one functions properly”.

“Mother’s revenge for cutting back on her financial assistance’
Gys said the boy’s mother “had lodged the false charge against me because she was angry after my welfare agency Khulani Simunye had cut back on the financial assistance she had received”. “The woman had told her neighbours she would “destroy” me and my organisation,” Gys testified in court. “The woman had become jealous when our organisation began helping out her neighbours,” he said.


Year-long ordeal : yet the innocent Belgian charity-worker only wanted to help uplift poor black South Africans…

”The only thing I have ever wanted to do, was to try and help poor black South Africans,” he said. That’s why he had gone to the country four years earlier to start working at the private charity. He had been in the country since 2006, initially working for Dutch welfare organisation, before starting one of his own. Gys said he had met the family which accuses him in 2007. At the time, the boy’s mother was very sick and he immediately began helping the family, he said, initially at his own cost, and later with the assistance of a welfare group. Towards the end of 2008, he and the boy’s mother were however involved in several disputes and he stopped giving the woman money for her children’s school transport, he said.

About Adriana Stuijt
Retired South African-Dutch journalist formerly Sunday Times Johannesburg

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