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Provident fund declines to pay R250k benefit to missing man's wife

'Complainant needs a presumption of death order from high court or a death certificate'

A provident fund has refused to pay a benefit of more than R250,000 to a woman whose husband went missing in 2020.
A provident fund has refused to pay a benefit of more than R250,000 to a woman whose husband went missing in 2020.
Image: 123RF

A provident fund has refused to pay a benefit of more than R250,000 to a woman whose husband went missing in 2020. 

According to the woman, her husband, who was employed by Mondi Limited, went missing in September 2020 and hasn't been able to get a death certificate or a court's presumption of death declaration. 

After her husband's employer refused to payout the benefit, she then lodged a case with Pension Fund Adjudicator who also declined her request.

According to the adjudicator Muvhango Lukhaimane, the woman submitted that a death certificate has not been issued.

"She claimed that she may only apply for presumption of death after a period of seven years. However, she needed the money to make a living. The fund stated that it declined the woman's request because there was no confirmation whether the member was dead or still alive," said Lukhaimane.

The fund responded that in the event of the death of a member, the board of management of the fund may allocate the death benefit in accordance with section 37C of the Pension Funds Act. However, the death is to be confirmed by a supporting death certificate issued by the department of home affairs.

The fund stated there was no confirmation that the member was dead or still alive and advised that the complainant should pursue the matter with the South African Police Service.

Lukhaimane said when a person goes missing in SA and there is no indication that he or she died from unnatural causes, there is only one possible remedy for the next-of-kin of the absentee and that is to apply to the high court for a “presumption of death declaration” based on the facts of the case.

“However, until a death certificate is issued, or a specific other order is granted, a missing person’s affairs are in legal limbo and dependents may have no access to funds and debts will be unpaid," she explained.

“In this instance, a presumption of death order has not been issued by the high court nor a death certificate. Therefore, the complainant is not entitled to a benefit from the fund in terms of its rules or the Act,” she added.

The complaint was dismissed.


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