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South African Pensioners Demand Justice: Apartheid-Era Funds Battle

  • Historical Injustice: Elderly South African pensioners, former public servants under apartheid, demand justice for unpaid pension funds, highlighting decades of systemic discrimination.
  • Government Neglect: Despite promises from successive administrations, including Nelson Mandela and Cyril Ramaphosa, pensioners' pleas remain unaddressed, revealing a pattern of neglect and broken promises.
  • Continued Struggle: Determined pensioners, representing soldiers, teachers, and nurses, vow to pursue legal action if their demands for justice, recognition, and financial restitution continue to be ignored by the government.
Apartheid-Era Funds Battle

In a poignant display of resilience and determination, a group of elderly South Africans, former public servants who served under the apartheid regime, have taken a bold stand against the government. Their demand is simple yet profound: justice for their unpaid pension monies.

These pensioners, once soldiers, teachers, and nurses who dedicated their lives to public service, find themselves embroiled in a battle for their rightful entitlements. Since the 1960s, they have served under the administrations of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, and Ciskei homelands, enduring the oppressive laws of apartheid that systematically marginalized non-white citizens.

Marching solemnly to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the seat of government power, these pensioners carry with them decades of unfulfilled promises and overlooked contributions. For them, the struggle for dignity and financial security persists long after the fall of apartheid.

Mary Beauty Malete, a prominent figure in the Civil Servants Pension Redress Movement, articulates the profound sense of betrayal felt by these pensioners. Despite the democratic government’s efforts to address historical injustices through redress programs, many find themselves excluded from the fruits of liberation.

Malete laments, “Government paid those people who were on duty from the 2nd of September 1998. We then felt that we as the persons that were discriminated against and who really worked for South Africa to where it is now, we discriminated against and were excluded from the program. All government civil servants were discriminated against. Especially people of colour, that is the blacks.”

George Matjila, a former soldier, echoes Malete’s sentiments, expressing decades of frustration and disillusionment. Despite promises made by successive administrations, including those of Nelson Mandela, Jacob Zuma, and Cyril Ramaphosa, the plight of these pensioners remains unaddressed.

Matjila reflects, “From the time Nelson Mandela was President, then it was Zuma and we had hope with President Cyril Ramaphosa. Now we are here, and no one is listening to us. The President promised to look into the matter and appoint the monster of finance, but they have not come back to us.”

The struggle for justice transcends the individual; it is a collective endeavor fueled by the memories of loved ones lost and the legacy of resilience passed down through generations. Fatima Abdool, whose late mother was a nurse during apartheid, continues the fight on behalf of her mother and countless others who dedicated their lives to public service.

Abdool poignantly states, “If she was still alive…She was passionate about the fact that the pensions should be paid. These are teachers and nurses that worked hard during that time. They have been promised but they have not received their monies to date. Some don’t even have documentation that prove they worked so they were not even paid their pension.”

The Union Buildings, a symbol of democracy and governance, stand witness to the solemn gathering of these pensioners. Their demands are clear, their resolve unwavering. A memorandum, delivered to a representative from the Presidency, serves as a testament to their determination.

Yet, should their calls for justice continue to fall on deaf ears, these pensioners have vowed to take their battle to the courts. The specter of litigation looms large, a testament to the enduring spirit of resistance and the unyielding quest for justice.

As South Africa grapples with the legacies of apartheid and the complexities of nation-building, the plight of these pensioners serves as a stark reminder of the unfinished business of liberation. Their struggle is not merely about financial restitution but about reckoning with the past and honoring the sacrifices of those who came before.

In the corridors of power, amidst the bustling streets of Pretoria, the voices of these pensioners echo, a poignant reminder that the fight for justice knows no bounds. It is a fight that transcends generations, a testament to the resilience and determination of the South African spirit.

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