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NCape municipality ordered to pay widow

Johannesburg - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has instructed the Sol Plaatje municipality in the Northern Cape to pay a widow whose husband was owed disability pension monies, her office said on Monday.

“The amount calculated by the pension fund administrator should be the amount that the municipality be liable to pay to the complainant as a lump sum payment,” Madonsela ruled regarding the matter.

File image. Credit: Reuters

The municipal manager was ordered to apologise to the complainant and her family in writing for the prejudice caused due to maladministration.

The report, titled 'A Costly Mistake', dealt with a complaint by widow Joyce Maria Holland concerning the pension benefits of her late husband Basil Freddy Holland, a former employee of Sol Plaatje municipality.

Holland complained that her late husband was not paid disability benefits after falling ill and being unfit to work, despite submitting required documents in time to claim for a disability pension.

“Holland alleged that the municipality submitted the claims late and consequently the deceased's claim was rejected by the pension administrator.”

Subsequently, the husband was advised to claim for early retirement benefits, but he rejected the offer.

The municipality admitted, in response to the investigation, that it received the claim from the husband for submission to the pension fund and that it submitted the required documentation late.

“The municipality's failure to immediately notify the fund administrator of the deceased's disability was in violation of the pensions fund policy,” Madonsela said.

“Its failure in this regard constitutes improper conduct.”

She said the failure to submit the claims within three months resulted in the complainant suffering financial prejudice in that, to date, she had not been paid the benefits.

“To accept the termination of the deceased's employment service as resignation or early retirement would have resulted in less benefits being paid out,” she said.

Madonsela ordered the municipality to arrange for the training of its officials responsible for processing pension and disability claims to sensitise them about the responsibilities involved in claiming.

The municipality was instructed to provide Madonsela's office with a report on the training of the officials within two months.

Sapa

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