Irate mine workers take PMC to court

2018-01-21 05:46
Tolie Mnisi

Tolie Mnisi

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More than 3 000 former mine workers have launched a class action against a liquidator they accuse of being secretive about the R421.9m surplus accrued from their pension fund.

The former workers of Palabora Mining Company (PMC) in Phalaborwa, Limpopo, have been fighting for at least 12 years to get their money after PMC’s pension fund was liquidated in 2005.

The gist of the copper mine workers’ claim is that the fund’s liquidator, Garth Barnard, who was appointed by the Registrar of Pension Funds, has not been transparent about the amount of surplus accrued, nor about how and when it will be distributed.

Tolie Mnisi (75), the chairperson of the Palabora Pensioners’ Forum, said 3 133 former employees had come forward to claim what they are owed.

He said 673 employees had died without seeing a cent of this money while the forum tried in vain to claim the money on their behalf.

Mnisi worked in the copper mine for 24 years and took early retirement in December 1998.

“Some of us retired, some were retrenched and some resigned, but the fund did not pay us the surplus,” he said.

He said he got R68 000 when he retired and was told he would get the rest of his money when he reached retirement age.

“They did not call me back. That’s why we’ve been fighting.”

In his affidavit in the Pretoria High Court, Mnisi said he wanted the court to review and set aside the calculation performed by Barnard, and that he must be ordered to recalculate the benefits to be paid to the beneficiaries.

“In protest to the manner in which the calculations have been performed, we have thus far refused to provide our banking details to the liquidator or to collect cheques for our benefits,” he said.

“The course of action we intend to pursue is to review and set aside the calculation performed by the liquidator, to order the liquidator to recalculate the benefits and for the liquidator to pay the recalculated benefits to members of the class action,” Mnisi added.

The PMC decided to liquidate the fund following the introduction of the Pension Funds Second Amendment Act, which is aimed at ensuring that surpluses of pension funds are allocated equally to beneficiaries.

A surplus on a pension fund happens when the fund accumulates extra money after all expenses have been paid.

In an effort to reach funds liquidator Barnard, City Press contacted Financial Services Board (FSB) spokesperson Tembisa Marele, who did not respond to written questions.

The Registrar of Pension Funds falls under the FSB.

Read more on:    mining

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