Today, 13 February 2018, Khulumani members have travelled to Constitution Hill to make a stand outside the Constitutional Court where a case to challenge the illegal closure of 4,600 pension funds by the Financial Services Board and the threats of closure of a futher 1,600 pension funds, is underway. The case has been brought by the Unpaid Benefits Campaign (UBC) of which Khulumani is a member, to request the court to make the Financial Services Board account for these apparently unlawful measures. What is not known is whether these funds still held assets and liabilities, and if so, where those assets and liabilities are held. But in 2016, there were R41.7 billion in unpaid benefits owed to an estimated 4 million people.
In 2014, Ms Rosemary Hunter, former deputy-registrar of pension funds and deputy executive officer of the FSB, exposed these apparently unlawful measures adopted by the registrar of pension funds and staff in the cancellations project. These unlawful measures relate to negligent processes in which the funds were cancelled, and role the FSB played. As a result of her complaints, Hunter was victimised and subjected to disciplinary proceedings which had to be withdrawn because the case against her was weak. Ms Hunter then approached the courts. The courts failed to resolve the issue of the apparent illegality of the action of the FSB, leading to the setting up of the Unpaid Benefits Campaign, which has decided to stand in solidarity with Ms Hunter to expose what is regarded as an unfair, discriminatory and corrupt practice that in this instance, would have seen workers being left to retire in poverty after having paid contributions to retirement funds throughout their working lives.
Ms Hunter's exposure highlights the systemic problem of poor regulation and lack of accountability by the FSB to regulate the financial industry with respect to unpaid beneficiaries. The UBC argues that Organs of State, such as the Registrar bear obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the fundamental right to just administrative action under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 3 of 2000 (“PAJA”) and to proactively seek out the beneficiaries of funds with unclaimed benefits. To date, the FSB has failed to procure an independent, transparent and complete investigation of the cancellation of several thousand pension and provident funds between 2006 and 2013 and has consistently refused to fully and timeously release internal FSB information and reports that have a material bearing on the possible unlawful measures adopted. This case seeks the protection of the Constitutional Court both of workers' benefits and of the courageous whistle blowers who seek to hold public office to account.
For further infomation, please contact:
- Ms Nomarussia Bonase, Khulumani Support Group, 060 878 9778
The pamphlet about the Campaign is attached.