Pensioners get a fraction of benefit
SHOCK allegations of racism are at the centre of hundreds of lawsuits served on Transnet’s lawyers this week.
Black and coloured pensioners claim they received a fraction of their pension benefits because of their skin colour.
The allegations emerged in court papers placed before Judge Siraj Desai in the Western Cape High Court on Monday and involve more than 600 black and coloured former employees of the parastatal and its subsidiaries.
While the application before Judge Desai related to the manner in which the actions should be served on Transnet, d o c u me n t s relating to one of the former employees were annexed to the papers and set out the details of the alleged racism.
The documents relate to a former employee living in Elsies River, David Hendricks, who belonged to the Transnet Pension Fund.
This fund was the successor of two pension funds established by the 1971 Railways and Harbours Pension Act and 1974 Railways and Harbours Pension for Non-Whites Act, the papers revealed.
Hendricks took early retirement in 1998 after working for Transnet for 27 years.
When he retired he became entitled to benefits stipulated by what was known as Rule 32, or so-called M-formula rules.
These stated that benefits payable should be calculated in terms of a formula determined by an actuary designated by the fund.
However, thanks to apart- heid-era legislation, people like Hendricks and the rest of the plaintiffs cited in the various summonses were not treated in the same way as their white counterparts when their benefits were calculated.
According to the papers, white beneficiaries were paid, on average, 90 percent more than those who were classified as coloured and black.
“The aforesaid conduct of the Pension Fund was irrational, unreasonable and unjustified and racist, and can only be accounted for on the basis of it being unfair discrimination based on race or colour, and thus unlawful,” Hendricks alleged in his papers.
He is holding the fund, the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund, and Transnet liable, saying that his right not to be unfairly discriminated against had been breached.
He also claims the “intentional discriminatory conduct” insulted him, impaired his self- esteem and violated his right to dignity.
He is claiming R500 000 and is seeking an order that the manner in which his benefits were calculated amounted to unfair discrimination.
In addition, he wants an actuary to be appointed to calculate the difference between the amount he received and the amount he would have been paid if he had not been coloured.
The difference should then be paid to him.
Attorney Clyde Avontuur told Weekend Argus there were 639 separate cases so far.
The total amount of damages so far comes to R319 500 000.
‘The conduct of
the pension fund was irrational, unjustified and