The government of South Africa has, through the Unclaimed Benefits Preservation Provident Funds, made its first payment to 15 of the 475 Malawian ex-miners whose names were confirmed and verified.
Ex-miners Association of Malawi President John Dick confirmed the development yesterday, adding that he is hopeful that the right people will get their unclaimed benefits.
According to the Ministry of Labour, of the 15 ex-miners, six are alive while nine are dead.
“They have been paid by direct electronic transfer [with money being sent] into their bank accounts. This ministry will not, at any time, handle money payable to the ex-miners,” the ministry indicates in a statement.
The ministry submitted 85 completed forms with supporting documents while 70 forms are being scrutinised.
The government has, however, expressed concern that 132 ex-miners are yet to be traced despite the fact that their names were identified in May 2021.
“Now that the payments have started, the ministry is appealing to all relevant stakeholders, including institutions and authorities, to scale up efforts to find 132 ex-miners whose money is ready for payment,” the statement reads.
Dick said the 15 are likely to have received varying amounts, but could only diverge information about one ex-miner from Blantyre, who got K250, 000 as unclaimed benefits.
“I can confirm that they have started releasing the money but we still need to work hard because there are many others who are supposed to receive the money,” he said.
He pleaded with stakeholders to make sure that the benefits go to the right people.
For three decades, Malawians who, between 1970 and 1989, worked in mines in South Africa have been fighting for their benefits.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.