Pretoria - The Great North Transport has been embroiled in a R300 million provident fund scandal that has left thousands of its retired and current employees out of pocket of their pension money.
This is according to whistle-blower and founder of NGO Make It Happen Foundation, Harry Masindi, who has blown the lid of the multimillion-rand scandal.
Great North Transport, which ferries scores of passengers from work and back every day across the province, is a subsidiary of the Limpopo Economic Development Agency, an entity of the Limpopo Department Of Economic Development and Tourism.
It is going through a liquidation process.
Frustrated widows, widowers and children of former employees and current employees of the subsidised government service approached Masindi in 2010 after concerns that some retirees were not accessing their pensions from administrators because the company had not been contributing.
Masindi said: “I received information of mismanagement and corruption practices by Great North Transport that is the subsidiary of the provincial government.
“When the matter was raised, the Treasury instituted a forensic report that we have on authority, that it was released to the government and are refusing to release it to the public to our surprise.
“Workers first approached the social and economic justice NGO in 2016 after it became clear that retiring employees were being short-changed. The amounts they were receiving at retirement were not comparable to their periods of service.”
“What is the delay in releasing this report of mishandling of pension funds at Great North Transport? Are they worried that it implicates the government?” asked Masindi.
A document penned by Masindi and seen by Pretoria News states names off all victims of the pension fund scandal, and mentions over R300 million of the provident funds money that has gone missing.
The document read in part: “During 2000, Metropolitan Insurance, the then administrator of the Great North Transport bus service provident fund, raised concern of non-payment towards the employees contribution by the entity. This prompted employees to question what had happened with their monies. What we uncovered showed with no doubt that there were serious administrative irregularities.”
Scores of current and retired employees of Great North Transport, mostly the elderly, marched to the Limpopo Treasury, Department of Economic Development and the Office of the Premier over provident fund dispute.
Responding to Pretoria News before the march, Economic Development MEC Thabo Mokone said the department was working on the matter and needed time and space because Great North Transport had it’s fair share of problems.
“It has been having a lot of problems in recent years and we are intervening. We have put aside more than R350 million to solve problems of the Great North Transport.
“There is also a forensic report that was instituted by the government and is due to be released soon on the matter. We are also looking into getting more buses.”
Limpopo Economic Development Agency spokesperson, representing Great North Transport Leo Gama said: “What we can confirm is that the provident fund was paid to the broker even though there was a delay due to financial constrains. With regard to the forensic report, a preliminary report is due for release once all parties have been informed.”
At the march yesterday, Lekau Mathonsi claimed he started working at the bus service company in 1980 to 2013, but only received R14 000 for his pension payout.
He said: “I’m lucky I received R14 000. Some have died without having been paid their pension money. I’m here today to get answers as to why we are being robbed of our hard-earned money. It’s even worse for us that have retired because we have no means of income.”