Teachers cry foul over their pension

THREE former teachers are accusing the managing director of the Limpopo school where they taught of pocketing their pension fund contribution instead of paying it to the fund administrators.

They taught at Centuari Combined School in Thohoyandou before resigning in 2009. Combined, the teachers had contributed just more than R100,000 to their provident fund since 2007.

Employees contribute to their provident fund for their retirement or when they get retrenched.

The other advantage of contributing to a provident fund is that the fund pays benefits to the heirs when a member dies.

Matamela Tshioma, 42, planned to pay tertiary fees with her provident fund but this is not going to happen since Centuari managing director Mukondeleli Rendani Tshivase did not forward her contribution to the Orion Provident Fund, which administered the funds. She discovered this three months after resigning from her job in 2009.

Tshioma was principal of Centuari for almost nine years.

After resigning she completed provident fund claim forms and allowed Tshivase to facilitate the process.

Tshioma enquired after three months when she realised that her money was not forthcoming.

"I was shocked when an Old Mutual official told me that they had never received my contributions from my employer," Tshioma, whose pay slips show that deductions had been made since 2007, said.

Combined with contributions from her employer she had hoped to get about about R50,000.

Takalani Tshinavha, 33, a mother of three, said she too wanted to use her provident fund to pay for her children's education. She has been waiting for the R20,388 she had contributed to the fund since 2009.

Tshinavha said three months after resigning, she too sent a text message to Tshivase enquiring about her payout.

"Tshivase said he was sorting my papers and I would be paid in no time, but months have now turned into years and I have not received a cent," she said.

Tshinavha said Tshivase no longer took her calls.

Thisheli Ramaite, 43, said after working for the school for six years she decided to resign and cash all her provident fund to pay for her eldest daughter's tertiary fees.

Ramaite was expecting just more than R50,000 from the fund.

Tshivase only responded to Tshioma's complaint. He said Tshioma was absent from the school for a week before faxing her letter of resignation.

"She disappeared for a week as the head of the school. I tried to contact her on her cell with no luck. There was no other contact since I did not know her place of residence," he said.

Tshivase said he received threatening messages from Tshioma, who demanded her last salary and payment for extra work done for the school.

Tshivase said Tshioma was uncooperative when he tried to help her. He said she also prejudiced the school when she applied for a government subsidy during her tenure.

"She said our school would increase school fees by 40 percent. This information led the department to reduce our subsidy," Tshivase said.

She said she had since suspended the deduction of provident fund from staff members until the problem is sorted out.

"As far as we are concerned Tshioma did not struggle to get her provident money at all. She simply does not want to talk to us," Tshivase said.

Tshivase has not responded to Ramaite and Tshinavha's complaints.

Lisette Lombard of Old Mutual is investigating whether or not they had received the former teachers' contribution. Lombard said she would advise Consumer Line when she had completed the investigation.

Lombard said her investigation would take two weeks.

Consumer Line will update readers on the outcome.