Protesting pensioners block gates to Parliament

2016-05-05 12:00
Milton Maweni wants his pension. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Milton Maweni wants his pension. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - A group of mostly old men and women blocked the entrance to Parliament ahead of President Jacob Zuma's budget vote reply on Thursday, demanding they be paid pension money they claimed they were still owed.

They vowed not to move until their phones beeped, to show they had been paid.

Drivers had to turn away as the pensioners sat on the ground at the entrance to the precinct's parking garage, and the visitors' centre was closed as they blocked the space near the entrance.

''The money goes back to 1959 and we didn't get it yet,'' said Milton Maweni as police kept watch.

He said he was not given his blue book - his Unemployment Insurance Fund document. He was among those who had spent the last three weeks on the cobbled pavement outside Parliament. 

The group said they worked for the apartheid-era Ciskei Transport Corporation (CTC) and SA Railways and when the new administration created new transport entities, their pensions disappeared.

They had visited Parliament several times over the issue, most recently in October, when former African National Congress chief whip Stone Sizani listened to their grievances.

They said nothing had happened yet and they would not leave until the money was in their bank accounts.

Pensioners protest outside Parliament's gates. (Jenni Evans, News24)


In October, their lawyer Michael Matshaye explained that about 15 000 SA Railways, and 850 CTC workers, were verbally dismissed when Transnet was created. He claimed some of the pension money was transferred to a company called Mayibuye, whose directors he claimed were from the ANC.

The Methodist church had been helping the group with accommodation in the latest round of their battle. Shops in the area and the Economic Freedom Fighters had been providing refreshments.

On Wednesday, they received a boost when #RhodesMustFall activist Chumani Maxwele threw his weight behind their plight and said the pensioners would not move from the gates until they were paid. He said they kept being told to go home with promises that the money would be paid, but then nothing happened.

“These people belong to the age of Govan Mbeki. They fought against apartheid,” he said.

He would not answer any more questions until News24 sent an isiXhosa speaking reporter to interview the elderly in their home language.

Speaking on condition that their names were not published, several of the pensioners said they wanted their money to be paid by noon on Thursday. Some said they did not know who Maxwele was and distanced themselves from him, saying they did not want any trouble.

A complication to the pensioners' plight was that some went on strike at around the time of the restructuring of the entities.

Pensioners protest outside Parliament. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Read more on:    cape town  |  parliament 2016

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