Pension and provident funds subject to regulation and supervision by the registrar of pension funds reported that, as at the end of 2016, they were holding unclaimed benefits with an aggregate value of more than R41,7 billion owed to more than four million people.
It is likely that there are unclaimed benefits with an aggregate value of at least another billion held by other pension and provident funds such as the Government Employees Pension Fund and the Transnet Funds.
There are probably billions more in unclaimed social security benefits held by the Road Accident Fund, the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the COIDA Compensation Commissioner and the Mineworkers Compensation Fund. And then there are probably billions more in unclaimed bank deposits, and unclaimed proceeds from investments in collective investment schemes, insurance policies and the like.
This money has been earned by the labour of workers, both local and migrant workers, and they, and the dependants of deceased workers entitled to these monies, should not be allowed to be deprived of what is due to them any longer.
Many excuses are given for why those entitled to these monies cannot be found. But, in a recent presentation by the Mines 1970s Unclaimed Benefits Funds, it was demonstrated that, with the right attitude, those responsible for finding and paying beneficiaries entitled to unclaimed benefits that accrued even decades ago can do it, even if those beneficiaries are living in rural areas, in South Africa or as far away as Malawi or Angola.
At the same time there are unscrupulous people pretending to be tracing agents who demand up-front payments from beneficiaries to help them make their claims and then either disappear without submitting the claims or deduct large fees from the benefits before the benefits are paid to the beneficiaries. There are also unscrupulous attorneys who will not let pension and provident funds deal directly with their clients because they want their benefits to be paid into their attorneys’ trust accounts so that they can deduct large fees from them before paying what’s left to their clients and without first proving that they are entitled to those fees.