Pensioners claim Tongaat-Hulett plundered a R585m surplus from their pension fund.
They gave the best part of their working lives to Tongaat-Hulett Ltd, the KZN-based sugar giant which has operations throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. But behind their backs, the employer they say was “once a good company”, systematically plundered their pension fund “surplus” of more than R585 million – leaving them with zilch – before “outsourcing” the aged pensioners and workforce to a more expensive scheme with poorer prospects.
This is the claim before the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban by 73 pensioners (77, when they started in 2012 but four have since died) who are convinced that the JSE-listed firm hatched an immoral and secret plan, spanning six years, to brazenly commandeer pension funds that should have been shared with them.
The fund, whose board of trustees is heavily loaded with senior executives from Tongaat-Hulett (interim September 2015 results reflected an operating profit of R1.4 billion) insists that it has done nothing wrong: the trustees claim that even if they have erred they would be “within their rights” to reallocate all surplus to the employer again, even if a court should rule to the contrary.