Money and Markets

R44.9 billion of unclaimed pension funds in SA ‘unclaimable’, say unsuccessful beneficiaries

Business Insider SA

SA pension funds
(Getty Images)

  • South Africa is currently sitting on R44.9 billion in unclaimed pension funds.
  • Business Insider South Africa asked potential beneficiaries to tell us about their experience claiming such money, and what they planned to do with the money.
  • They did not report an easy process.
  • Some need the money to pay school fees, while others want to buy tombstones, or renovate their houses.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

South Africa is sitting on R44.9 billion in unclaimed pension funds, owed to 45 million beneficiaries according to the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA).

That should be free money, to the right people. But claiming it is not always easy.

Business Insider South Africa asked readers trying to make such claims about the process, and what they planned to do with the cash. Here are the stories of three people trying to claim what they believe is theirs.

Kagisho Khonkhobe

Kagisho Khonkhobe has been trying to help his ageing father claim money he believes he is owed for years, but with no success.

"My 70-year-old father has always known he has monies in a provident fund, however, they seem to not know where hence we contacted the FSCA. 

"The amount is unknown, but it's a substantial amount taking into consideration compound interest of about 46 years. 

According to Khonkhobe, the process of claiming has been difficult and discouraging, as they were told by the FSCA that there is no money, only to later be told otherwise.

"When we search the FSCA website, there are possible matches under his name at Alexandra Forbes. My father is adamant his money is with them. 

"We first called the FSCA, one [agent] who got disconnected had previously told us there was nothing under his ID. We went to the FSCA, filled in the forms and were told if there is money, it will take up to six months for investigation purposes," he said.

Khonkhobe said he also received an email from the Metal Industries Benefits Funds Administrator Customer Service, on behalf of his father, requesting further information about his money.  

He was later told that there might be money under his father's "dompas", only to be told otherwise later.

Right now, all his father wants to do is pay for his kids and grandkids to attend school with the money, and invest the rest, but Khonkhobe fears his father might take his last breath before the issue is sorted.

Brenda Molefe

Brenda Molefe has been trying to claim money owed to her late father who worked as a maintenance worker at Mmatau Clinic in the North West province.

She has not been able to do so successfully, although her older brother has.

"I remember registering with my late aunt and brother at Madikwe Office, after my father passed on, I was still in school.

"I was not able to claim the money due to lack of information, but my brother was able to claim his share because he was old enough to do that on his own," she said.

Molefe is not sure how much is due to her, but says "I would love to buy a tombstone for my father and fix the ceiling at home where my dad lived.

"I feel a bit guilty because I have not done much since my father passed on, so being able to do a little at his hometown will put my heart at ease," said Molefe.  

Gwen Tshimbana

Gwen Tshimbana's been trying to claim some money that belongs to her daughter's late father.  

"The money is due to my daughter who was a minor when her dad passed. His employer as well as the company that was managing his pension payout at the time of death have all the information with regards to the beneficiaries," said Tshimbana.

When she discovered that there was money due to her daughter, Tshimbana thought the claiming process would be easy because the employer as well as the insurance company would be able to help facilitate the processing of the payment.

"Oh, we were mistaken," she exclaimed. "The same insurer pointed us to the Master of the High Court.  The process at the Master's office was traumatising."

Tshimbana's late fiancé Lawrence Mtiti (Provided)
Tshimbana's late fiancé Lawrence Mtiti (Provided)

The person who was meant to help them is said to have been "condescending" and at the end told them that their systems are not synced, meaning data that Cape Town has cannot be viewed from Johannesburg. 

"We in fact are supposed to start the whole process from the beginning. Covid hit us immediately after that and I still have not mustered the courage to visit the Master's Office up to now," she said.

Although Tshimbaba has no idea how much money is due to her daughter, she believes that the funds "will guarantee that our daughter is able to continue with her studies."

According to Section 37C of the Pension Funds Act it's very important to ensure that you have named beneficiaries on pension, provident or retirement annuity funds. Without these named beneficiaries or a valid will money owed to your heirs could end up not being paid out. 

Business Insider South Africa asked the FSCA what steps beneficiaries need to take if corporates dispute a claim. After several attempts, we still did not receive a response. 

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