The Ekurhuleni branch of the Unpaid Benefits Campaign arranged the interview with the Mahlangu brothers and other informants in KwaThema.
Simon (61) and Johannes (62) Mahlangu are brothers. They have been trying to claim benefits they believe were owed to their father, Isaac Masango. Even though Simon is the younger, he did most of the talking in the interview. Simon and Johannes are two of ten children, of whom seven are still alive.
The brothers were both born on a farm in Heidelberg, south of Johannesburg, where their family lived at the time. The family moved to KwaThema in 1964.
Simon spoke animatedly about their mother, who was self-employed. Both described her as entrepreneurial and a brilliant dressmaker, who could make anything from wedding dresses to traditional clothes. She was also known for baking and selling cakes in KwaThema.
Their father, Isaac, worked in factories in and around Springs for different companies, both in the metals industry and telephone manufacturing, for 25 years. He then worked for a glass manufacturing firm for more than ten years before taking early retirement.
Isaac may have received a third of his pension as a lump sum while he was still alive, but Simon and Johannes are not clear on whether this happened. They describe their father as ‘very secretive’, and they suggest that he may well have hidden some of the money he received from his wife and children.
Isaac passed away in 1990. Simon and Johannes are certain that their father and, after his death, his wife, was supposed to receive monthly payments related to the two-thirds of his retirement benefits still owed to him. This never happened.
They have looked into their father’s pension benefits, but were told by the fund administrator that all of it was paid out by 1990.
Simon and Johannes are skeptical about this, and do not believe that all the money could have been paid out by then without them knowing about it.
The original article is part of Look Beyond The Bottom Line published by Open Secrets