Sanlam 'won't release' mom's funds

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line
Thembisile Mabuza is in dilemma.
Thembisile Mabuza is in dilemma.
Image: Supplied

Thembisile Mabuza's life is a mess after her R506,334 pension was deposited into an invalid retirement annuity account she held with Sanlam.

The policy has not been registered with Sanlam's business unit and she has not received a letter confirming that she holds a retirement policy with them, she said.

Mabuza, 45, of Klipspruit in Soweto is worried that she might spend the festive season without a penny due to this error as Sanlam is also allegedly dragging its feet in resolving it.

Lack of finance has also affected his grade 10 son whose grades have dropped in the last trimester, Mabuza said.

"I now depend on my pensioned mother who earns a government grant, which is not even enough for her daily needs," Mabuza said.

Her misery started when her employment ended at the department of telecommunications and postal services in January. She had an option of taking the lump sum or transfer the pension fund into any financial service of her choice.

"Because I had another job I felt it was not necessary to cash in my pension fund and sought financial advice from a Sanlam financial advisor, Margaret Kumire, who helped me complete the forms," she said.

Six months later, she learnt that she would also lose her job at the department of home affairs and quickly approached Sanlam to advise them of her plight. It was only then that I discovered that the initial retirement policy I bought was never registered with Sanlam business unit.

Mabuza said she later approached her financial advisor, Kumire, and requested her to terminate the policy which was never effected in the first place.

"She was not even aware my money from telecommunications and postal services had been deposited into their account as it was stuck on their suspension account."

After locating her money, Kumire advised her to open a unit trust account instead of withdrawing the whole amount, to which she agreed.

"Instead, she hoodwinked me into signing yet another retirement annuity," she said.

A few days later, she was told her money would be placed in a retirement annuity or reversed to the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), which she found acceptable. "Kumire said I could only access it when I turn 55, which is ridiculous since I'm jobless right now."

Mabuza said as a lay person she would not have chosen the retirement annuity if she was properly advised that her money would be locked in until she turned 55 years.

"My life is a mess, I can't afford daily basic needs, let alone taxi fare for my son," she said.

Mabuza said in terms of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Act (FAIS), the financial advisor should have taken reasonable steps to get all information about her financial situation before selling her this product, which will impoverish her for the next 10 years. "She got all information about my financial status and I do not know why she continued to identify this financial product as appropriate."

After a long deliberation, she was told that her money would be reversed to GEPF and that it might take four to six weeks to do so. "It's almost five months now and the money is still with Sanlam... nobody is willing to assist me."

Sanlam did not respond to Consumer Line's inquiry but responded directly to Mabuza.

Their response from a no reply e-mail address read: "We have received your complaint. Daniéle Janse van Rensburg will handle this matter. We are currently busy with the investigation of the complaint and therefore request your patience. We will provide you with feedback by 2/12/2019.

"If we are unable to resolve the complaint to your satisfaction within six weeks of receipt thereof, you can direct your complaint to the Office of the FAIS Ombudsman, and this must be done within six months after receiving this notification."

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