NEWS & ANALYSIS

Transnet pensioners dying off, settlement urgently needed - Anton Alberts

FF Plus MP says since lawsuit commenced 60 months ago, nearly 21 000 pensioners and/or their spouses have passed away

High mortality rate among Transnet pensioners indicates that a settlement is urgently needed

While the class action lawsuit filed by Transnet pensioners against the state is being drawn out year after year with legal processes, a large number of people are living in destitute circumstances and over the last 60 months, since the lawsuit commenced, nearly 21 000 pensioners and/or their spouses have passed away (that is on average 334 pensioners per month).

These shocking figures came to light after the FF Plus addressed written parliamentary questions to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Pravin Gordhan. (Questions and answers attached herewith).

The fact that so many of these pensioners, of all races, are dying due to poverty, stress, disease and even suicide goes to show that Transnet and the state have a moral obligation to offer them immediate relief.

The FF Plus is contacted by an increasing number of struggling pensioners on a daily basis who complain that they can no longer afford bread. Many of these pensioners, who should have had a comfortable retirement because they contributed to a pension fund all their lives, are now living on the street and some have even committed suicide as a result of their desperate circumstances.

This needs to be brought to an end. Transnet must take action and agree to a fair settlement in the class action as soon as possible.

The FF Plus is grateful that Minister Gordhan is personally stepping in after adv Alberts brought the urgency of the matter to his attention.

It is important for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet to show that it will not turn a cold shoulder to the Transnet pensioners – unlike the previous Cabinet. It will also confirm that our country is moving in the right direction as regards human rights.

One of the important figures in die pensioners’ fight, Ms Bettie van der Merwe from Pretoria, effectively put the drawn-out injustice into words by saying that it is interesting to see how fast VBS Mutual Bank was offered financial relief, while the pensioners have to keep struggling on their own in spite of the fact that they are elderly.

The FF Plus will continue to urgently engage with the government regarding this matter so as to bring this inhumanity to an end and to ensure that the pensioners get the relief they so desperately need.

Text of reply:

DEPARTMENT: PUBLIC ENTERPRISES

REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

QUESTION FOR WRITTEN REPLY

QUESTION NO.: 1502

DATE OF PUBLICATION: 18 MAY 2018

1502.  Adv A de W Alberts (FF Plus) to ask the Minister of Public Enterprises:

(1) Whether he can indicate what number of pensioners of the (a) Transport Pension Fund and (b) Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund has died since the issuing of the certification of the class action against Transnet and the Government;

(2) What was the average figure of deaths in each month since the certification of the class action against Transnet and the Government;

(3) What number (a) of the pensioners in total died because of unnatural causes and (b) of the specified unnatural causes was the result of suicide?    NW1642E

This response is according to information received from Transnet:

(1)(a)(b) Approximately 9,697 pensioners and 11,071 spouses and children have died since May 2013 on both funds.

(2) * Average of 156 pensioners and 178 spouses on average per month.

(3)(a)(b) The funds do not record cause of death.

* There were some 75 000 pensioners and spouses in March 2013; now there are 55 000; so about 20 000 pensioners/spouses have died over 60 months (20 000/60 = 333 per month)

ENDS

Statement issued by Adv. Anton Alberts, FF Plus chairperson, 17 July 2018