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Veterans pin hopes on payout plan

Cape Town - SA’s military veterans have high hopes that the payout programme for destitute members of their ranks, announced recently by the Department of Military Services, will ease their plight.

The programme is designed to provide special benefits to former soldiers.

People wait to register as military veterans at iKapa military base in Goodwood. Photo: Cindy Waxa. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Department

spokesman Ntime Skhosana said many former soldiers struggled in civilian life.

Former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) commissar James Ngculu agreed that the decision was “long overdue”.

He said many military veterans left SA in the 1960s as very young soldiers, sacrificing everything and depending totally on the ANC.

“When they came back they had to fend for themselves. Age, in most cases, had caught up with them. Their health was not good and [they] had little or no opportunity for further education, except military training.

“Some came back to destitute families, or could not even trace their families,” he said.

The benefits apply only to certain military veterans, with a “means test” set to be conducted to determine the eligibility of veterans.

Among the benefits for those deemed suitable are housing and transport subsidies, assistance with health care, educational bursaries for dependents, and skills training for the unemployed.

The department says there is a R126 million budget for the programme in 2012/13.

Skhosana stressed that there would be no lump-sum payouts.

About 57 000 veterans are expected to register for the programme.

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