Scores of GNT workers still have not received pension payouts after 18 years

Published Dec 3, 2023


THE pensions of more than 800 Great North Transport (GNT) PTY former and current employees have still not been paid out by the bus company, 18 years on.

The struggling victims have allegedly been swindled out of about R300 million of their pension benefits by the bus company operating under the auspices of the Limpopo government.

The scandal comes after the money vanished into thin air and without a trace, leaving its employees counting their losses.

GNT, led by CEO Dr Matata Mokoele, ferries thousands of passengers from work and back every day across the province, and is a subsidiary of the Limpopo Economic Development Agency (Leda), an entity of the Limpopo Department Of Economic Development and Tourism (Ledet).

Despite promises by the previous Ledet MEC, Thabo Mokone, two years ago that the department was raising money to pay the pensions, this has not come to fruition.

Mokone has since been replaced by Rodgers Monama during the last provincial executive reshuffle by Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha.

Independent Media previously reported that GNT Pty Ltd had failed to pay their contributions to the pension fund administrators, or made short payments, for 18 years. This is despite having made monthly deductions from staff salaries, in breach of the Pension Fund Act (PFA).

In a report draft document seen by Sunday Independent, the money was evidently used as cash-flow by the cash-strapped bus company.

Despite holding quarterly board meetings between 2000 and 2017, the GNT board of trustees also failed to report non-compliance by the bus company to the pension fund registrar as required by the PFA, according to a draft forensic report by global firm BDO.

The report also found that the company’s annual benefit statements were not reported, figures were unexplainable, while other provident fund benefits decreased instead of increasing, in violation of the law.

This multi-million rand scandal affected even workers who had been with GNT from as early as 1990.

The bus company has had nine administrators since 1994, including Alexander Forbes, which administered GNT between 2010 and 2017.

Others included Moriting Wealth Managers and Lekana Employee Benefit Solutions.

Frustrated widows, widowers and children of former employees and current employees of the subsidised government service, marched to the Limpopo premier's office on Wednesday to present a memorandum of demands.

Part of the victims' demands were calls to President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the matter by engaging all relevant departments and Chapter Nine institutions to protect the Constitution of SA and help fight corruption.

Some of the demands include that:

  • The President launch an investigation into the “unsatisfactory and suspicious” conduct of the Premier of Limpopo and its MECs for their personal interest on the GNT issues;
  • The President instruct the Limpopo Provincial Legislature to investigate the conduct of the Speaker of the Provincial Legislature and call on the Speaker to account to the legislature for failing to protect the Constitution of SA;
  • The President to instruct the Limpopo Provincial Legislature to call the Premier of Limpopo (Stan Mathabatha), the MEC for LEDET (Rodgers Monama) and the Treasssury MEC, Seaparo Sekoati, to account to the legislature on the liquidation and disappearance of the GNT provident/pension fund;
  • The President to issue an SIU proclamation on the investigation of corruption, maladministration and/or mismanagement of the GNT bus company, which is on the brink of collapsing; and;
  • The Premier and its MECs to stop the apparent privatisation of GNT.

The victims, through a non-profit-organisation, Make it Happen Foundation, led by Henry Masindi, also demanded that those implicated be brought to book by arresting them.

Masindi said: “Today we are gathered here to express our grievances on behalf of thousands of workers of GNT, who are frustrated against abuse power, liars, manipulation of missing GNT employees’ provident/pension fund monies, corruption, and mismanagement practices by GNT management, Limpopo Treasury, LEDET, Limpopo Premier and Limpopo Legislature.”

Responding to questions sent by Sunday Independent, Leda's spokesperson, Patrick Monkoe, poured cold water on the allegations, saying the entity had no record of R300m that was lost. R54m was accounted for through the forensic investigation commissioned by the Provincial Government.

“In terms of the affected employees, 1 163 were identified as eligible. To date, 847 applications were successfully processed, 163 were traced and asked to submit their applications, the files of the remaining 153 beneficiaries were then referred to Fedgroup's Unclaimed Fund for further processing,” Monkoe said.