May 25, 2010

SOUTH AFRICA: Elderly in Row Over Pension

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa / Sowetan / News / May 25, 2010

By Frank Maponya
THREE elderly people have accused the authorities of sidelining them from getting old age grants because their spouses were in the employ of the government.

Wilson Mphahlele, Ramatsemela Mphahlele and Michael Mphahlele, from GaMphahlele village near Lebowakgomo, all qualify for government pension grants . They are aged 67, 62 and 66 years old.

They said they went to the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) offices in Polokwane in 2008 to apply for the grants.

WORRIED: Limpopo pensioners Ramatsemela Mphahlele, 62, and Wilson Mphahlele, 67, are unhappy that the government has declined their pension applications. PHOTO: CHESTER MAKANA
They said they were later told that they did not qualify for the grants because their spouses were employed by the government and were earning more than R53000 a year .

Wilson’s wife works as a cleaner in one of the provincial government departments, while Ramatsemela’s husband works in the department of water affairs as a cleaner.

Michael’s wife also works in the department of water affairs as a cleaner.

The three said they could not understand why they were being made to suffer by being denied government grants . Wilson felt it was unfair that the government expected him to be provided for by his wife.

“We want to call on President Jacob Zuma to make an intervention because we have reached the age at which we should qualify for the pension grant ,” he said.

Sassa Limpopo spokesperson Kelemogile Moseki said the Social Assistance Act no. 13 of 2004 stipulated that any elderly person whose spouse was still in the employ of the government and earning more than R53000 was not entitled to a pension grant.

“It is a procedure that government employees earning more than a stipulated amount cannot expect their spouses to get pension grants, unless exceptional circumstances are proven,” he said.

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