Windhoek — About 300 former employees of the now defunct Tsumeb Corporation Limited (TCL) who are camping at a house in Greenwell Matongo suburb have vowed to fight tooth and nail to recover N$116 million that went 'missing' from their pension fund.
The alleged misappropriation took place almost 15 years ago and their case was dismissed by the High Court several years ago because the agent who defended them did not have a locus standi to represent them in court.
Currently the Directorate of Legal Aid has taken up their case and it has appointed Advocate Adolf Denk to represent them in the long-standing legal battle.
The group say their employer unlawfully transferred the money from their pension fund in 1998 and they have not received the money to date. On top of their pension money they are seeking a 20 percent compensation for each year they spent trying to recover the money.
The former TCL mineworkers, most of whom are pensioners, have been camping at Greenwell Matongo since January 20 this year and have vowed to stay there while looking for ways to recover the pension money they allege was 'stolen'.
New Era visited them yesterday morning to find out what their next action will be. They are camping at a two-bedroom house of a former TCL mineworker. The pensioners sleep in tents with men and women sleeping separately. They share one toilet with some resorting to relieve themselves in the nearby riverbed.
"We are waiting for our lawyers. We don't know how long we will stay here. We will stay here until we get our money," said their spokesperson, Didhard Mparo, who is from Kavango Region. He said the group would seek an audience with government to assist in the matter.
Mparo said the group depends on rare handouts for survival. Members of the group also go out to fend for themselves, Mparo said.
"We old people are suffering, we survive from our own pockets and it's not enough. Look where we are sleeping," he said, pointing at the tents where they sleep. The oldest member of the group is 81 while the youngest is 41 years old. Some of the group represent deceased relatives who were never paid out their pension money.
"I am very angry. I want my money so that I can go back to my wife and children," said 76-year-old John Matambo who is also from the Kavango Region.
"Government must intervene. We worked for it and we are not asking for handouts," fumed 62-year-old Andreas Sakaria from Oshikoto Region.
"Some of us left our homes in the care of our children who are missing classes because they have to take care of the homes and livestock," said Albertina Namindo from the Ohangwena Region.
"Government only respects young people who are on strike but not the elderly. Government should respect the elderly," said 55-year-old Joseph Mumbala from Ohangwena Region.
TCL had filed for bankruptcy and TCL allegedly used some of the money transferred into its pension fund to pay for the retrenchment of its former workers.
The pensioners' case initially came to nought in the High Court in Windhoek in 2011 and the group was also ordered to pay the legal costs of the action.