Former government employees cry foul over pension payouts

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa says lawyers have been approached to represent former government employees. File picture

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa says lawyers have been approached to represent former government employees. File picture

Published Jul 29, 2023


Scores of former government employees across the country will be heading to court to challenge their exclusion from pension redress.

The retired civil servants served the government for decades while in the employ of the former homelands and the South African government.

However, they said during the apartheid era they were discriminated against on the basis of race, gender and employment status in relation to pension benefits.

Deputy chairperson of the Civil Servants Pension Redress Movement (CSPRM), Stephen Sass, said tens of thousands of disgruntled former health workers, teachers, policemen, soldiers and government employees were now being discriminated against again as they had been pushed out of the redress process.

The CSPRM was established in Swellendam in May 2019 to address the concerns and has members across the country and in Namibia.

Sass said that in 1996 the government consolidated all pension funds of the Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, Ciskei and South Africa into an umbrella body called the Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF).

Two years later an attempt was made to redress the pension injustices before 1994 by compensating former employees who had retired with one lump sum of money and also readjust pensionable years that were not covered during the apartheid dispensation.

“Billions of rands were set aside to compensate government employees who had been in service on 2 September 1998. But many former employees say they were not informed about the programme and the deadline also excluded many who previously suffered discrimination,” said Sass.

He said that some pension payouts were miscalculated and of the 157 000 people who applied for redress, only 54 000 were deemed to qualify.

The organisation was also in the process of gathering more affected former employees.

Sass addressed more than 800 former employees in Gugulethu last week and scheduled to set up a provincial meeting on August 5 in Worcester.

Leader of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) Bantu Holomisa also raised the frustration of the former government employees.

During his State of the Nation Address (Sona), President Cyril Ramaphosa tasked the Minister of Finance with setting up a task team to look into pension redress matters.

Holomisa said: “I met with Minister Godongwana on 22 March and he promised to meet with the various committees representing the affected former employees. None of the promises that came afterwards materialised. We’ve been left with no other option but to approach the courts.”

He said attorneys have been briefed and senior counsel advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi had also agreed to represent them.

According to Holomisa, the former workers were employed in the 1970s and 1980s.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said a process to verify the validity of the claims was being undertaken by insurance companies Sanlam and Alexander Forbes.

“There are two categories of people. On the one hand, there are those whose pensions were transferred to GEPF but claim that the value of their pension was miscalculated. Those were mainly in the former Transkei and Ciskei. On the other hand, some former employees in Venda opted to keep their contributions with Sanlam and never transferred them to GEPF.

“But we have asked all these pension funds to verify the validity of the claims. They are busy processing about 30 000 claims,” said Godongwana.