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Farmworker not given pension payout despite 30-year service

Nomsa Hlulani says her husband worked on a farm for over 30 years but she is yet to get his service payout three years after his death.

Nomsa Hlulani says her husband worked on a farm for over 30 years but she is yet to get his service payout three years after his death.

Published Apr 12, 2021

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Johannesburg - All that Nomsa Hlulani, 44, of Lenasia, wants is her late husband’s service payout.

The mother of two resides on a farm next to the Patsing informal settlement south of Joburg.

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According to Hlulani, her late husband Zolani Hlulani, worked on the same farm for more than 30 years as a general worker before he died of suicide in 2018.

A block of houses in the vicinity have been occupied by residents who claim that they pay rent of R300 to the farm owner.

At this stage, the farm ownership remains a mystery with the City of Joburg, farm owners and leaders of the nearby informal settlement battling it out in court. On the opposite side of the block is Hlulani’s isolated two-roomed house. She vehemently stated that she refused to pay rent to the farm owners because they failed to compensate her husband, who was their employee for decades.

“Even if I wanted to I would not be able to afford that rent. My husband worked on this farm for years but they have failed to pay us,” she said.

The owners of the farm are believed to be on a mission to evict all residents on the farm, including Hlulani.

“All my life I have stayed on this farm. My husband and I got married when I was in my twenties.

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“He worked every day on this farm as a general worker. He would always come home and complain about how he was mistreated by his employers. He was always stressed mostly because of his working hours and salary.”

Her husband reportedly died of suicide on the farm in 2018 after a fallout with his employers. The Star has seen payslips belonging to Zolani, with amounts ranging from R500 to R1 000. “I’m struggling to make ends meet, I’m facing eviction from people my husband served with all his blood and sweat.”

However, it has since emerged that the farm known as Pyramid has since closed down.

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Yousuf Deenat, son of the late farm owners, said he was aware of the situation. “Look the farm is no longer operating, my late father did tell me that there was a dispute with this certain general worker and that the matter was in the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.”

Deenat distanced himself from service payout issues, stating that he was not part of the day-to-day running of the farm.

“I left the place when I was young and I would only come occasionally for visits and to check up on my dad. I know that there was also something with Unemployment Insurance Fund but I really don’t have all the details. From my side I don’t know of any payouts, unfortunately,” he said.

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The fund’s spokesperson, Makhosonke Buthelezi, said the process of claiming funds in this instance must be initiated by the employer.

“It's a difficult situation because she should have claimed it within 18 months of her husband’s passing, second there are forms that need to be filled in by the employer which must be sent to the nearest labour centre.

“Therefore, she will need to provide proof that she was married to the dead, but she will need the employer to initiate the process,” Buthelezi said.

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