Transnet's Durban container port. File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi
CApe Town - Transnet’s beleaguered pensioners have accused the parastatal’s newly appointed board of delaying Transnet Second Defined Pension Fund (TSDBF) bonuses payment to benefit 50 000 pensioners.

John Benwell, who represents pensioners on the board of trustees and has been a gladiator for their cause, said pensioners have been waiting on the bonus payout from July this year, but the board has still not signed off the bonus.

“The board of the pension fund makes a decision to pay a bonus, the money is available to pay the bonus. We have put aside money and it is ready to be paid to pensioners.

"We cannot do this because it has to be approved by Transnet’s board. We have been waiting for that decision.

“Fifty-thousand pensioners are waiting on that decision. We made the decision in June to pay the money in July. We have been waiting since July for the decision from Transnet. They have not indicated why the approval is being delayed. We can’t get any information out of them,” said Benwell.

The TSDBF was one of three funds that grew out of the then Transnet Pension Fund. The TSDBF originally had more than 100000 members but they have been gradually dying off.

The fund has limited increases on pensions to 2% a year since its inception in November 2000, way below the inflation rate.

The board receives proposals from the trustee, and makes the final step in approving the bonus payment.

The fund’s principal officer Peet Maritz, however, said the board would communicate to the trustees and pensioners once a decision was made on the matter.

“The Transnet board, if I am correct, met on September 5. The matter was before them and as the fund we are awaiting the outcome of their deliberation," said Maritz.

A frustrated pensioner, David Price, said the waiting has been a long one and the pensioners needed the matter to come to a close, and receive their bonuses.

“We are now sitting on a surplus of R4.5 billion. Our trustees have proposed that we get a 15% annual salary bonus. This was for July but it did not come through.

"People are having a hard time, they are needy pensioners. This goes to the whole 50000 of them,” added Price.

Transnet board chairperson Popo Molefe said: “It is not true that Transnet board is withholding bonus payment.

"The process is undergoing necessary governance procedures and the fund trustees are kept updated,” explained Molefe.

Political Bureau