13-year death benefit fight 'over'

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line
Noxolo Chiya is fighting for her son's right to inherit from his late father's estate. / SUPPLIED
Noxolo Chiya is fighting for her son's right to inherit from his late father's estate. / SUPPLIED

In SA every child has a right to inheritance and at times, illegitimate children may need to prove that they are indeed the children of the father in question.

Some spouses do not understand this and they would try to block the inheritance of stepchildren or the deceased's children born out of wedlock.

Even the Pension Funds Act accommodates children of the deceased who were born from previous relationships to inherit from the estate of the deceased.

The Act allows the pension fund administrator a period of 12 months to search for all the dependants before they could allocate funds to all the beneficiaries.

Noxolo Chiya of Kutloanong in Odendaalsrus - a gold-mining town in Free State - has been fighting for her son's right to benefit from his late father's estate for the past 13 years. The boy's father, Hluphuyise Ngwazi, was a mineworker.

Approaching the Pension Funds Adjudicator did not help Chiya as the Mineworkers Provident Fund (MPF) was unable to get all the relevant documents from her to enable the fund to finalise its allocation process.

Her stumbling block is the wife of her late partner, who has been refusing to complete the required documents to allow the MPF to allocate funds to all beneficiaries. Chiya said she did not know that her partner had a customary wife and children back home.

"Her anger against her husband or me is unreasonable as her refusal to sign the forms does not only affect her but her own children who could not further their studies all these years," Chiya said.

She said upon the death of her partner she lodged a claim with MPF but no maintenance was paid towards the upbringing of her child.

However, MPF could not do so as the customary wife was not cooperating, Chiya said.

Ngwazi had a death benefit of R596,541 which became available for distribution after his death, she said.

When Consumer Line tried to intervene in 2017 the customary wife refused to cooperate, saying she wanted nothing to do with her late husband's death as signing the forms would benefit Chiya.

However, this month she had a change of heart and signed the required documents after realising that her resentment had affected her relationship with her family and children.

All the beneficiaries have now submitted the required documents.

MPF's Jan Kgosana said the fund's official went out to trace the wife and interviewed
family members.

"It was a successful trip as the widow was found and supplied the required documents after she completed an interview form," said Kgosana.

He said Sars needed a letter of authority before they could provide the family with a tax reference number.

The family is in the process of applying for it.

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