ConCourt pension case adjourned

2013-02-07 14:42
(Picture: Sapa)

(Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court adjourned without hearing argument on a woman's challenge to her divorced husband's pension fund on Thursday.

This was to allow both sides' lawyers to prepare papers for the court to consider granting a suspended declaration of invalidity order, so that the inconsistency in law in terms of what happens to funds on divorce can be addressed.

The court hopes to make an order on Tuesday, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said. It might not necessarily involve counsel attending court, he added.

Phumla Ngewu, and the Women's Legal Centre Trust, have brought an application relating to the Post Office Retirement Fund.

Ngewu was married to SA Post Office worker Mawethu Ngewu until 27 July 2007. He is a member of the fund.

In their divorce decree, Phumla was awarded a 50% share of her ex-husband's pension interest.

Constitutional defect

However, under the rules of the fund, this does not accrue upon divorce, but when her husband terminated his membership of the fund.

She and the trust are challenging the provisions of the rules of the fund or, alternatively, the Divorce Act and the Pension Funds Act, saying they violate her constitutional right to equality.

The fund has admitted there is a constitutional defect in its rules.

The fund and Communications Minister Dina Pule have requested that the Constitutional Court postpone the matter for six to eight months, as a legislative amendment process was underway to correct the defect.

If the "suspended declaration of invalidity order" - which the lawyers were working on Thursday once the court had cleared - is granted, there will be eight months for Section 10b of the Post Office Act to be amended.

If it is not amended by then, Section 24a of the Government Employees Pension Bill must be enacted.

This will be in line with the principal of having a "clean break" after a divorce.
- SAPA

Read more on:    constitutional court  |  dina pule
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