Pensioner who protested for weeks at Parliament dies

2016-07-04 20:49
Parliament. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Parliament. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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We were kicked out like dogs, says rail pensioner

2016-05-24 13:26

Elders from the Eastern Cape have been sitting tight in a Cape Town church for over a month. They are waiting for government to help them obtain pension funds.WATCH

Cape Town - One of the elderly people protesting outside Parliament over pension payments has died, their representative said on Monday.

"When he left, he died," said Michael Matshaya of one of the men who was part of a group of pensioners from East London who kept up a protest for almost two months.

He identified him as Kolisile Ngubomvu, and said he was in his late 80s.

He was found to have symptoms of tuberculosis and pneumonia at the time of his death on Thursday, June 30.

Matshaya said Ngubomvu had worked for SA Railways before the country's transport network was reconfigured after apartheid, and Transnet was formed.

He had been part of a group which believed they were still owed pension money and Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits from when they were employed by apartheid-era transport companies.

Many of the Ciskei Transport Corporation employees received money they were owed, but Matshaya said the battle was still on for the railway employees.

Show of defiance

They slept at the Central Methodist Church in Greenmarket Square, Cape Town, for weeks after arriving at Parliament in April. They walked up to Parliament everyday protesting in hopes of receiving their money.

In a brief show of defiance they staged a sit-in at one of Parliament's main entrances and were removed by police, amid much screaming.

The Department of Labour eventually took on the case and some UIF payments were made, but Matshaya said the railway pension issue was still not resolved.

The group of former SA Railways workers went on strike during apartheid and were dismissed. They challenged their dismissal and won, said Matshaya, but were locked out when they reported for work.

They believe they are still entitled to their pensions but are battling to get the money.

The protesting pensioners eventually decided to go back home to East London after Parliament went on recess at the end of May. They plan to approach the court to resolve the matter once and for all.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant has said her department was looking into the matter together with the departments of trade and industry and public enterprises.

Ngubomvu's funeral will be held on July 16.

Read more on:    cape town  |  parliament 2016  |  protests

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