Msunduzi pensioners whose money went missing from their pension fund have vowed to support a call for the total shutdown of Pietermaritzburg if they don’t get the promised answers on the whereabouts of their money.
The pensioners gathered behind the city hall on Friday waiting to be addressed by the DA leadership. The party promised to support them until their money is recovered.
The pension fund was reported to have had about R33 million meant for retiring employees, but beneficiaries say they are now struggling to get their money.
In April, in response to a Witness article about the missing millions, the city had vowed to launch an investigation and lay criminal charges against those responsible for defrauding the municipality’s pension fund.
At the time, municipal spokesperson Ntobe Mkhize said the matter had been referred for formal investigation.
“The municipality is unable to comment further on the matter and will await the outcome of the investigation, which intends to get to the bottom of … what happened in the administration of the fund,” Mkhize said.
This, after opposition parties in Msunduzi successfully pushed for a motion to investigate the missing funds.
The investigation was supposed to look into the department and officials responsible for the handover of the provident fund and the management of this portfolio as well as the list of active members, and the total amount owed to them.
The Witness reported that the municipality decided to outsource the pension fund to a private company.
The previous fund administrator, which has since undergone liquidation, notified the city to find another administrator.
Addressing the pensioners on Friday, DA provincial leader Francois Rodgers said the city had 14 days to avoid imminent mass action against the missing pension funds.
He said the city has taken over three months to investigate the matter.
“This is sad and it would seem that the [city] leadership has priorities other than resolving the pension issue. This is not the City of Choice, but the city of disaster. It’s an uncaring city that does not have the interest of its people at heart.”
The missing money was not a generous handout to the pensioners, they worked hard for it. [Lulamile] Mapholoba we are giving you 14 days to report back to the affected pensioners, failing which be ready for a huge surprise. The 14 days start from tomorrow [today]
Rodgers said they will mobilise Pietermaritzburg residents and the pensioners to take to the streets.
“The legal route can drag for a long time, but we will wait for 14 days and see what happens,” he said.
The pensioners said they have not received feedback from the municipality since the matter was reported in The Witness.
Balin Pillay, who had worked for the city for 40 years as a swimming pool superintendent, said there has been no update from the city on the investigation. Pillay retired in November 2018.
“If the city management was serious about resolving this issue, why have they been quiet since April, more than four months since they made an undertaking to investigate this? We will support the DA in its endeavour to bring finality on this matter,” said Pillay.
Another pensioner, Ephraim Mkhonza, said his 42 years of service was for “sweet nothing”. “If going to the streets will help us get our money, we will go. The money the municipality owes us runs into millions.
“I retired in 2013 as a supervisor in the sewerage department but I have nothing to show for that. It feels like we are taken for granted by these people,” said Mkhonza.
In response to yesterday’s gathering, Mkhize said the matter was still under investigation. “The investigators have requested extension of time due to the late submission of information by those who are affected.
“Once the investigation has been concluded, the report with findings will be presented to the council. The affected pensioners and the members of the public will also be informed once the process has been finalised,” she said.