Ex must wait for pension

2010-10-09 14:46

Mothapelo Ramocheca was furious to learn that the Government ­Employees Pension Fund would not pay out her divorce benefit until her former husband went on ­retirement.

She was so angry that she threatened to lodge a case of unfair discrimination against the fund with the ­Human Rights Commission.

Ramocheca said she did not understand why the organisation did not apply the clean-break rule, which would have entitled her to the 50% ­portion of her ­ex-husband’s pension benefit.

They finalised the divorce in October last year.

The clean-break rule allows for the payment of a divorce benefit at the date of the ­divorce, rather than an ­unspecified ­future date such as the date of retirement.

Meanwhile, private-sector pension funds are beginning to apply the rule.

“I think this is unfair to me. Just because my ex-husband works for the government I cannot get the money, even though the law has changed”, she complained.

Ramocheca’s ex-husband was a police officer.

She said she was surprised when his employer, the South African ­Police Service, told her she would have to wait until her ex-husband retired before they would pay out the money.

“I have a problem with that because the money does not earn interest.

“I want to get it now so that I can invest it for my kids and get the interest,” she said.

Hotline approached the fund to find out why it was not ­applying the clean-break rule.

Spokesperson Ofentse ­Seleka said although the fund was aware of the rule, it did not apply to ­government ­employees.

He said the rule was ­introduced by the Pension Funds Adjudicator’s office, which ­administered the ­Pension Funds Act.

Seleka said: “The Pensions Funds Act is not applicable to the government pension fund. This fund was established by the Government Service ­Pension Act.

“The act has not been amended to include this rule.”

He also said that at the ­moment the fund was ­compelled to follow the ­Divorce Act, which allowed pension benefits to be payable at a future date.

“Nevertheless, the incorporation of the clean-break principle is currently being considered by the fund,” he said.

He also advised Ramocheca to resubmit her claim because the fund had no record of it.

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