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STANDING COMMITTEE ON PRIVATE MEMBERS’ LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS AND SPECIAL PETITIONS
2 August 2006
KRIGE PETITION FOR PENSION TRANSFER: DISCUSSION
Chairperson: Ms M Mentor (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Special Petition of Brigadier JD Krige
Mr van der Merwe's (IFP) proposed Constitution Fifteenth Amendment Bill on floor-crossing
The Committee delayed discussing the issue of floor-crossing having decided that the petition of Brigadier (Ret) JD Krige was more urgent. Brig Krige, a pensioner with a disabled son, had submitted a petition to have his pension transferred to his son upon his death. Legally, Brig Krige could not make such a transfer because he had retired before 2002 when the statute was amended. However, the Chair commented that the Committee should consider the facts of the case raised in Brig Krige’s petition. Some Committee Members were concerned that allowing Brig Krige to make such a transfer would open a “floodgate” of similar petitions, but they approved of the Chair’s decision to call for more information and to consult stakeholders before deciding on the petition.
The Chair informed the Committee that it would not be discussing Mr van der Merwe's Constitution Fifteenth Amendment Bill on floor-crossing as originally scheduled. The Committee had, notwithstanding the public interest in the floor-crossing issue, decided to first deal with a special petition by Brigadier J D Krige (Ret), a pensioner who had served in the SA Defence Force (SADF). The floor-crossing proposal would be dealt with in September.
Brig Krige was 85 years old, his spouse had died, and he was concerned about his disabled son. His petition requested that his pension be transferred to his son upon his death. The Chair said that it was because of the urgency of this matter that the Committee would delay its discussion of floor-crossing.
The Chair added that at the next meeting of the Committee, the Member of Parliament who was the sponsor of the petition and possibly the petitioner himself would attend. She noted that the petition did not include some information relevant to the Committee’s deliberations such as the petitioner’s period of service. In its discussion of the petition, the Chair said that the Committee would consult with other stakeholders that she hoped would be present at the next meeting, although she added that, due to the short notice, they may not be present until the meeting the following week.
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) commented that he hoped the Committee would receive more information regarding the details of the petition so Members would be able to make an informed and impartial decision.
Mr H Bekker (IFP) believed that in general Members felt sympathy when reading Brig Krige’s petition. However he had retired before 2002, when the statute came into place which permitted transfer of pension funds to dependents in such circumstances. He expressed caution that the Committee should avoid setting a precedent, which would open the floodgate for similar requests. He reiterated Mr Mshudulu’s comments that the Committee needed greater clarity on the particulars of the case, specifically regarding the financial situation of the petitioner. He believed the Chair had been correct to prioritise the matter.
Ms S Rajbally (MF) felt that the matter needed to be examined carefully; for example the Committee needed clarity on whether the son was receiving a disability grant or not. She believed that the Committee could not make a decision regarding what the son could or could not receive; they should rather only offer advice. Contradicting the law had to be avoided.
Mr Mshudulu supported Ms Rajbally’s comments; adding that a decision had already been reached on the matter by the trustees of the petitioner’s pension scheme.
The Chair commented that she appreciated the input and comments of Members. She added that the process should neither foster hope unnecessarily nor diminish hope unnecessarily. She said that the Committee must make it clear that it would not wilfully “deny any South African the mercy of Parliament.”
The Chair added that the transfer of the pension should have been conducted in terms of the existing laws of Parliament. She also stated that the Committee needed to obtain medical documents, financial documents and further information from the Board of Trustees.
The meeting was adjourned.
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