16 July 2012

South Africa: More Time for War Vets to Register for Benefits

An extension of about two weeks has been opened for war veterans to come forward and sign up for the much anticipated government benefits.

Following the approval of the Military Veterans Bill by MPs in 2010, about R1.6 billion has been set aside for benefits to all war vets including MK and APLA military veterans as well as National Servicemen and Permanent Force members of the apartheid South African Defence Force (SADF).

Despite having fought on opposite sides of the war effort, the announcement of the registration has created a common interest among the veterans as they now stand in the same queues to register for benefits ever since this year's round of registration started - on May 28.

The process was meant to be completed by July 13, but the newly created Department of Military Veterans has announced that registration will go on until July 31.

When West Cape News contacted the department last Friday a communications staff member who would only identify himself as Commander Monthso, promised to send a press statement on the matter, but had not done so by end of day.

However, a voice recording on his cell phone announced that the deadline had been moved to the end of the month.

In the case of the Western Cape, it indicated that veterans could go and register at the Infantry School in Outshoorn, Fort iKapa in Goodwood near Acacia Park or 9 SA1 Battalion in Elsies River.

The voice message highlighted that those who wished to register should bring their identity documents.

The registration process has been criticised by the Democratic Alliance (DA) who said it has been "chaotic" and poorly handled.

In a statement, the DA said the department aimed to re-register 55 000 war vets, but only 20 000 had been registered.

The DA had tried to contact the provincial offices where the registration was said to be taking place, but the contact numbers "were not operational."

The party said future rounds of registrations should be accompanied by public awareness campaigns reflecting "full details and processes".

"Our military veterans deserve better. The department should start showing respect for our military veterans by answering their calls for help."

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