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Johannesburg - They died while on a mission for their country five months ago, but their families still haven’t seen their pensions.
Most of the other payouts have been made, but they don’t add up to much.
So far, excluding pensions, the state has spent less on payouts to the families of the 15 dead soldiers than it has on military flights to take President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on an exotic holiday each.
A single holiday for the top two: R2.647 million.
Payouts so far to dead soldiers’ families: R1.965 million.
On Thursday, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula listed the benefits due to the families of the 15 SANDF soldiers who died in the Central African Republic (CAR) and what has been paid so far.
The problem is the outstanding paperwork.
The deceased members’ spouses “may” qualify for a monthly spouses’ pension, the minister told Parliament.
Members’ dependants or beneficiaries “may” qualify for four types of benefits: a once-off pension; an SANDF group life insurance scheme benefit; an SANDF group life insurance scheme funeral benefit; and an SA Army Foundation Fund benefit.
The soldiers died in a March 23 clash with rebels in the CAR; most died on the day and two died later. They were on an official SANDF deployment to the CAR.
Mapisa-Nqakula revealed the payment details in a reply to a question in Parliament by DA MP David Maynier.
According to the minister, none of the pensions appear to have been paid out yet. There is no indication of the value of the pensions.
The minister said pension payouts were in terms of the rules of the Government Employees Pension Act.
Pensions for four are listed as sent to the National Treasury in late May or early June; it’s not clear if this means that those pensions are now being paid.
Progress on other pensions includes these notes: “Booklet received”; “Docs at Directorate Personnel Payments”; documents “incomplete”; waiting for leave calculations; confusion over a child beneficiary born out of wedlock; and “following up with the family needs”.
Other benefits have been paid.
South African Army Foundation Fund payouts ranged from R24 250 to R32 345. Thirteen of the 15 funeral benefits, each R5 000, were paid out.
One family is still to submit documents while the other is marked “documents in post”.
Eleven of the life cover payouts have been made, ranging from R120 000 to R160 000.
Reasons for unpaid life cover include waiting for documents, “guardianship letters outstanding”, waiting to contact a family in Lesotho, and “documents in post”.
Thus the totals paid out so far to each family - excluding any possible pension payments which aren’t specified - range from R29 250 to R189 250.
Altogether, excluding pensions, the state has paid out R1 964 940.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the rest of the payments to the soldiers’ beneficiaries were being processed.
“The human resources division is liaising with the dependants/beneficiaries of the deceased members whose documentation is still outstanding. The administrative process will be finalised once all the correct documents are received,” said the minister.