Ex-miners march to Alexander Forbes

Some of the protesting members of the Ex-miners of South Africa outside the Alexander Forbes offices in Cape Town .Photos by Mandla Mnyakama
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

An apparent delay by the government and its private financial service provider in processing payments of retirement benefits for the country’s former mineworkers is causing a huge distress amongst a group of Ex-miners. This was expressed when a large group of elderly former mineworkers and affiliates of the organisation (in the Western Cape) protested outside Alexander Forbes offices in Cape Town (Woodstock) recently.

The protest included the wives of deceased ex-miners and they demanded the company to pay-out the pension and provident fund benefits speedily.The company is one of the stakeholders responsible for the payment of the work benefits to the former mineworkers. They hailed from all over the province including townships such as Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Nyanga and surrounding areas. The group also formed part of 1400 members of the organization in the province. The mining companies they worked for in Gauteng, Newcastle and Welkom specialised in asbestos, coal, diamond, gold, iron and platinum and employed them under the Apartheid migrant labour system.

Some of the areas they originated from included the former apartheid government’s Bantustans before their retrenchments occurred between 1980 and 1988. These disheartened elderly and middle aged protesters accused the company of lack of co-operation and frustrating them with repeated empty promises and unnecessary delays after their consultation with it in February last year. They also condemned the Mineral Resources Department for neglecting them after they submitted their own memorandum to parliament last November. One of their pleas was for the government’s intervention in order to force the company and other involved stakeholders to speed up the process. This became one of the points they emphasized and also threatened to embark on national action if their plight was still ignored.

 

Some of the protesting members of the Ex-miners of South Africa outside the Alexander Forbes offices in Cape Town. Photos by Mandla Mnyakama

Thembalenkosi Shibani, the organisation’s spokesperson, said that they demanded that the company pay-out the benefits urgently as it had all the relevant proof with them.

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“The Chamber of Mines Legal Office also confirmed that it was also unnecessary for us to pay for the record of service documents release which some of us lacked because our employment background had already been verified.“So now we do not know what holds them back from compensating us or how long should we should still wait”.

“It is very sad because it appears that some of our members will go down the grave without tasting their own rights just like those who have already pass on while waiting impatiently for the same funds.”It’s also embarrassing that the government had let down us down in this regard after we submitted our memorandum to parliament last November. “We are now prepare to embark on a national action in order to expose to the whole world because we are being suppressed, starved and continuously deprived of hard earned rights,” said Shibani

He also described the food parcels the Social Development Department distributed to the former miners as worthless thing which mostly left them hopeless and severely stressed. The protesters later dispersed peacefully without being attended by the company. Noxolo Nkebe, from the Pensions Surveillance and Enforcement Department at the Financial Services Board said there was R16 billion waiting to be paid out to the ex-miners but they were required to submit their records of service before that could happen.

“In a meeting we had with Alexander Forbes two weeks ago the company emphasized they raised an issue a need for the submission of record of service documents by the ex-miners to make it possible for them to verify their particulars,” said Nkebe. This was also echoed by Rochelle Mayeko of Alexander Forbes. Sidwell Medupe, of the Mineral Resources Department referred Workers’ World to Mokgadi Pela, the Labour Department spokesperson who failed to respond to our media query after we referred it to him.

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According to some media reports in July 2016, Godfrey Olifant, the Mineral Resources Deputy Minister announced that 14 000 former mineworkers received compensation benefit amounting to R40 million and another 8 000 received Unemployed Insurance Fund benefits amounting to 14 million.

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