Pension woes for former Ndalo Media staff
Scores of former Ndalo Media employees are drowning in debt following widespread retrenchments at the magazine publisher.
More than 70 employees were retrenched in January when the financial situation at Ndalo Media became so dire that owner Khanyi Dhlomo decided to shut down the publisher that housed prominent magazines such as Destiny, Destiny Man and Elle.
About 25 staff were rehired by Ndalo TME, which was established with a hope of reviving and relaunching some of the magazines.
But Dhlomo has since decided to liquidate both Ndalo Media and Ndalo TME, leaving employees in the lurch.
Some of the workers have since approached Old Mutual to withdraw their pensions but were shocked to learn they were in arrears and could not access their funds.
They were informed that Ndalo Media failed to pay four months of pension contributions. These were, however, deducted from salaries, according to the employees.
"I tried to go get my pension and I couldn't. But they were being deducted from our salaries every month. Where was the money going?" asked one of the employees.
Dhlomo has until close of business today to settle the outstanding pension premiums or the fund will go into involuntary liquidation, which could see the pensions "frozen" for more than a year.
According to a letter from Old Mutual, it is willing to release the pensions should Ndalo Media cover December premiums, which is when Dhlomo announced they would be closing down.
The premiums amount to just over R200,000.
"If the arrears contributions are not received, the scheme will go into involuntary liquidation, an average liquidation will take 9 - 12 months to pay out benefits to members there are no arrears to be recovered from the employers by the liquidator. In this instance, as there are arrears, this timeline would be impacted by how long it takes to recover arrears from the employers," read the letter.
The employees, who have taken the company to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in their fight for severance packages, said they were struggling to make ends meet.
They said the situation at home was so bad that their cellphones had been cut off for non-payment.
"Ndalo Media is currently liaising with Old Mutual in regards to the employees' pension fund and will communicate further by Thursday, the 18th of April 2019," read a letter from the company sent on Monday. The employees said they cannot afford to have the fund go into liquidation.
Dhlomo had not responded to questions by the time of going to print and her lawyer Lizl Combrinck's office said she could only comment next week. Old Mutual said it was prohibited from commenting on the matter without consent from the client.
"Old Mutual takes the nonpayment of contributions by employers very seriously and are distressed by the delay this causes on members being able to access their benefits," said general manager of operations Hugh Hacking.
The stuff my sources are telling and showing me about Khanyi Dhlomo and Ndalo Media is hectic.— Kgothatso Madisa (@kgmadisa) April 15, 2019
You guys can expect more explosive stuff on Sowetan/SowetanLIVE in the coming days.
Today, Dhlomo sent them a letter liquidating a company she transferred Ndalo Media assets to.
However these 20 odd people have not seen a single pay check from this Ndalo TME which was only operational for about 2-3 months. So they worked for free.— Kgothatso Madisa (@kgmadisa) April 15, 2019
So now Khanyi Dhlomo saying she is liquidating this new TME means they can forget about their salaries.
In this letter, that I have in front of me, Khanyi Dhlomo says she is liaising with (this) investment company trying to sort out the pensions mess.— Kgothatso Madisa (@kgmadisa) April 15, 2019
This is the top half of the letter she sent today. The bottom half I can’t share as yet. pic.twitter.com/orht3lHDty
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