Pen­sion­ers get a frac­tion of ben­e­fit

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - FA­TIMA SCHROEDER

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

racist’

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