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PFA resolves dispute over identity for death benefit payment

30 January 2014 Muvhango Lukhaimane, Pension Funds Adjudicator

A provident fund has failed in its attempt to dispute the identity of the claimant of a death benefit.

The Pension Funds Adjudicator Ms Muvhango Lukhaimane has ruled that the death benefit totalling R129 512.46 be paid to GJ Radebe, the complainant, who is the son of the late member of the Metal Industries Provident Fund.

The respondent, the Metal Industries Provident Fund, had declined to make payment to the complainant and had instead paid a woman by the name of GJ Radebe who had a different ID number.

When the deceased Mrs Radebe died in 1999, she had not nominated any beneficiaries. In 2002, Mrs BM Radebe, the aunt, notified the respondent of a child of the deceased, by the name of GJ Radebe. She asserted she was the child’s guardian.

The aunt provided a copy of the death certificate of the deceased and a copy of the birth certificate with ID number 810114 0747 088. This birth certificate was for a female child with the names GJ Radebe.

The respondent duly paid the benefit to the aunt in monthly instalments for the child’s benefit. The benefit was to be made until it either got exhausted or if the child completed schooling or reached majority.

On 30 April 2010, the respondent sent a letter to the aunt advising her of its intention to pay the balance of the benefit to the child.

The respondent claimed it was subsequently contacted by a woman with the name GJ Radebe who identified herself as the daughter of the deceased and said she was, therefore, entitled to claim the benefit.

On 27 May 2010 the woman, GJ Radebe, was interviewed by two officials of the respondent and she also presented an original identity document with the ID numbers 810114 0747 088. She duly completed the application for the benefit to be paid to her.

The respondent also verified Ms GJ Radebe’s banking details and paid the benefit of R129 512.46 to her.

The respondent said the complainant subsequently presented two original copies of his identity documents: a cancelled one with ID number 810114 0747 088 and an active one with ID number 810414 6005 085.

It submitted that the complainant did not provide any documentary proof of his family relations with the deceased. When the complainant was asked questions for purposes of verifying his identity, it submitted that he could not answer some of them adequately or some of his responses were unconvincing.

The respondent said it was not satisfied that the complainant was the deceased’s son.

The respondent said it was satisfied that it paid the benefit to the correct person, the female GJ Radebe.

The complainant told the Office of the Pension Funds Adjudicator (OPFA) that he was entitled to a lump sum death benefit as indicated in the letter sent by the respondent on 24 August 2010 as he was the person identified therein.

He said the birth certificate in the respondent’s possession had the ID numbers 810114 0747 088 which was for a female person. He submitted a copy of his ID document with the same numbers and indicated that this ID document had since been cancelled for the same reason that it had a number allocated for a female whereas he was actually male.

In support of this statement, the complainant had a letter from the Department of Home Affairs confirming the change of ID numbers for the complainant for the same reason that his first one had a number reserved for females. He submitted a copy his new ID document and birth certificate with male ID numbers and a copy of his aunt BRadebe’s death certificate.

The OPFA said a simple enquiry to the Department of Home Affairs confirmed that a male person with the name GJ Radebe was issued with an identity document with the following ID number 810114 0704 088. It submitted that this was reserved for female persons. It submitted that this identity document had since been cancelled and the ID number was invalid.
 
On 5 May 2009, the same person was re-issued with a new ID document with the ID numbers 810114 6005 085.

Department of Home Affairs also confirmed the residential address of this person as 1537 Ntuli Street in Thokoza. In his complaint to the OPFA, the complainant attached a copy of the death certificate of his aunt who was receiving the benefit on his behalf prior to her death in 2007. This aunt also indicated her address as 1537 Ntuli Street in Thokoza. This was in contrast to the person who was paid the benefit, whose address was in Yeoville.

On the evidence submitted, the OPFA was convinced that the complainant was GJRadebe who previously had ID number 810114 0704 088 which was subsequently changed by home affairs to 810114 6005 085.

In her ruling, Ms Lukhaimane said a criminal act was perpetrated by the person who claimed to be the deceased’s daughter and ordered the respondent to pay the complainant’s death benefit of R129 512.46.

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