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‘Funds remain unclaimed due to ex-miners’ ignorance’

Limpho Sello

MASERU — The Provident Fund says thousands of Basotho who once worked in South African mines have failed to claim their benefits due to ignorance.
The Provident Fund principal officer, Sipho Sidu, told a press conference last week that many of the former mine workers did not even know they contributed to the fund when they were still working for the mines in South Africa.
The Provident Fund is a scheme created by South African mines to manage contributions from workers every month so that they would get a lump sum payment on their retirement.
But Sidu, who was in Lesotho to educate many former mine workers on how to claim the benefit, said many former workers are unaware that they contributed to the fund and are entitled to benefits on retirement.
He added that the Provident Fund had engaged in civic education among current and former mine workers and their heirs on how to claim the benefits because “some of them are illiterate.”
He said the education campaign is done through the regional advisory committees which target certain groups of certain languages.
“We have been here for a full week and we have visited all the districts of Lesotho,” Sidu said.
“In Qacha’s Nek and Mokhotlong people did not come in large numbers and we think this was due to lack of information as some people do not have radios and televisions,” he said.
Most mineworkers in South Africa are from Lesotho and Mozambique.
In February this year, a South African newspaper Mail & Guardian said mining companies owe former workers a whopping M5.7 billion.
Sidu said they had also visited neighbouring countries like Mozambique, Swaziland and Botswana on a similar mission.
He added others had failed to claim their provident funds because they did not have proper documents.
The required documents are a national identity document, passports, letters from village chiefs confirming that they are residents, provident fund membership cards and bank statements.
Sidu urged former mine workers to visit the Employment Bureau of Africa and the Ministry of Labour and Employment to learn more about how they claim their benefits from the Provident Fund.
Speaking at the same occasion, the Labour Ministry’s Principal Migrant Officer, Mpinane Masupha, said they were concerned that a lot of money has remained unclaimed.
She however bemoaned the difficulty that most Basotho face in applying and acquiring passports in Lesotho adding this was contributing to the delay in the speedy payment of the funds.
“But the challenge that still remains is that of delayed issuance of passports and other documents like letters from the chiefs specifying some of the details,” Masupha said.
She said they are working with the Home Affairs Ministry to speed up the issuance of passports so that people can apply for provident funds.

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