The Unpaid Benefits Campaign has given pension fund administrator Alexander Forbes 14 days to act decisively on unpaid benefits it administers.
Alexander Forbes did not disclose the amount of unclaimed benefits in its books. But the industry watchdog, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), reported in September 2017 that there was more than R42bn in unclaimed benefits in SA and about 4-million beneficiaries were affected.
Demonstrators who descended on the administrator's head office on Monday were from pension funds including those of Mittal and Telkom, as well as the Global Pension Fund.
Carrying placards that read “Telkom is here” and “We demand our own money”, beneficiaries handed over six boxes full of application forms and supporting documents for Alexander Forbes to process. They also made the administrator sign a memorandum demanding among other things that Alexander Forbes report back within 14 days on how far it has come in paying beneficiaries and reinstating cancelled funds.
“In each form we have given you codes for the pension funds you are administering. You must respond according to those codes …. We have given you everything. We’ve attached ID copies, death certificates for the deceased, everything you need is there,” said Bricks Mokolo of the Orange Farm human rights advice office in handing over the boxes.
The demonstrators said there was no telling how things would turn out if they had to return. “We are here peacefully today,” said Mokolo. “But we aren’t looking for peace, we are looking for justice.”
The group said its next target would be Old Mutual. It would also deliver application forms and supporting documents to the insurer “to prove that the people they say are not claiming are claiming”.
Lucky Scotland of the Unpaid Benefits Campaign said there had been repeated attempts by former workers and their dependants to access their benefits from Alexander Forbes and accused the company of relinquishing its responsibility to pay by transferring workers' monies into unclaimed benefits funds.
“Stop cancelling funds of existing beneficiaries,” he pleaded.
Alexander Forbes is one of the administrators of the dormant retirement funds that were cancelled by the FSCA, previously known as the Financial Services Board, between January 2007 and December 2013.
Accepting the memorandum, a representative of Alexander Forbes promised to give a comprehensive report to UBC in 14 days and to give individual feedback to all beneficiaries who submitted forms on Monday.
Alexander Forbes’s interim group CEO, Marilyn Ramplin, said the administrator has been engaging with the FSCA to help trace and compensate beneficiaries of unclaimed benefits. “Administrators provide the FSCA with quarterly reports of benefits paid and outstanding unclaimed benefits, which is available on the FSCA website,” she said.
Pressure applied by the movement, which was created in early 2017 by former workers, community groups and a few NGOs, has led to at least one administrator, Liberty, committing to reinstate 130 of the cancelled funds it administers. The group demonstrated outside Liberty’s offices in August 2017. While only members from the Vaal region joined Monday’s demonstration, UBC said it was gathering resources to be able to transport Abahlali baseMjondolo in its next demonstration.