Pensioners stage sleep-in on Parliament pavement

2016-04-22 08:36
Pensioners plan sleep-in outside Parliament over unpaid benefits. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Pensioners plan sleep-in outside Parliament over unpaid benefits. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - About 50 people, mostly elderly men and women, have slept on the pavement outside Parliament this week to highlight their demand for benefit payments they say they were due when they worked for the former 'homeland' Ciskei's railways.

Spreading out on blankets with their overnight bags drawn close, they have kept up a steady vigil as Parliament went about its business of discussing departmental budgets and President Jacob Zuma's announcement about the arms deal was made.

On Thursday, the Economic Freedom Fighters set up a service station and provided refreshments for them and a church in the area has been giving them a place to bed down for the night.

On Tuesday, Parliament said it was surprised by the return of the former South African Transport Services and the Ciskei Transport Corporation employees for their fourth sit in.

Nothing happening

In a statement, Parliament said it had been working with them and a range of government departments to resolve the alleged short payment or non-payment of their benefits.

The chairperson of the National Council of Provinces had spoken to them, and in January, former chief whip of the African National Congress listened to their complaints.

But Kenny Bafo, a Pan Africanist Congress activist who has been spending nights with the group, said the pensioners believed nothing was happening.

Parliament said their complaint had been referred to the select committee on petitions and executive undertakings. 

"Parliament also facilitated a meeting with senior officials from relevant government departments including labour, public enterprises, social development and transport and treasury and an investigation of the petitioners’ claims with pension funds which covered them."

Pensioners plan sleep-in outside Parliament over unpaid benefits. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Time lapse

It explained that complaint dates back to the early 1990s when the Ciskei Transport Corporation was dissolved. Some of the petitioners employed by the SA Transport Services had their services terminated in 1988 after a strike.

The long time lapse has made it difficult to resolve their issues quickly.

Parliament was concerned for their safety and was trying to help, along with other departments.

Meanwhile, people passing Parliament daily and some staff at Parliament are feeling increasingly worried about the pensioners sitting on the cold cobblestones in the autumn drizzle.

Read more on:    cape town  |  parliament 2016

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