Hundreds of military veterans were disappointed yesterday after they were falsely informed that they would be receiving pension payouts from the government.
The veterans queued in Durban from the early hours yesterday only to find that they would only be able to register their information with the Department of Military Services and were not going to receive any compensation.
Members of all former statuary and non-statuary forces, including Umkhonto we Sizwe, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army, the South African Defence Force and the current South African National Defence Force have been asked by the department to register their information. However, registration does not automatically qualify members for any benefits.
Colonel Evarista Seeta, from the department, said that benefits would only accrue to those military veterans who were destitute. Benefits include housing and transport subsidies, assistance with health care, assistance with education (bursaries) for dependants and skills training for unemployed veterans.
According to Seeta, many of the men in the queue did not qualify as destitute, therefore they did not qualify for any benefits.
“There have been rumours spread over social networks that pension payouts are being handed out,” said Seeta.
“This is nonsense.”
A means test will confirm which veterans are eligible for benefits. The test will assess whether or not the veterans are working, what assets they have and where they live.
There are 57 000 veterans believed to be eligible for benefits, with more than 2 000 of them from KwaZulu-Natal. Only 15 000 eligible veterans, countrywide, have updated their information so far.
Peter Greyling, 57, a former member of the SADF, was waiting in the queue because he heard that he “qualified for a handout”.
Christofel Gerhardus, 52, heard from friends who had served with him that he could “get some compensation” if he registered. Seeta said there would be a limited pension payout in the future, but this was not yet finalised.
Destitute veterans have been encouraged to register.
This phase of the registration process will end on July 13. The department will also be making home visits to veterans who are ill or immobile.