She dropped out of school in grade eight and spent the rest of her adult life a domestic worker and cleaner at different homes and companies. But according to the department of labour, she is a qualified teacher who worked for the KwaZulu Natal Department of Education for years. To top it, she apparently has a R2 million pension payout. Thandi Shabangu (61) from Belleveu in Gauteng says she wants nothing to do with the millions.
Shabangu told ZiMoja that she used to work at a media company as a cleaner in Clarendon, Pietermaritzburg in KZN, where she supposedly worked as a teacher according to the Department of Labour. She says she was told all this when she went to the Department of Labour to claim her Unemployed Insurance Fund (UIF) and to register for the Sassa pension grant. "The officials at the department told me that I had an unclaimed R2 million from the department of education that I needed to claim. I told them I have never qualified as a teacher and that I didnâ€™t know anything about the pension but they tried to convince me to claim the money. I declined," she said, adding that even the senior official at the department tried to convince her to take the money she never worked for. She said that she dismissed the departmental staff who were helping her at the offices in Pietermaritzburg fearing that the government would arrest her for accepting money that she knew very well that she did not work for.
Shabangu said that all she wants was to get her SASSA grants and UIF as she qualifies. "My former employer submitted all the necessary documents for me to get my UIF benefits and I donâ€™t understand why they are not giving me my benefits and why they are trying to force me to take the money that does not belong to me. I have never committed a crime, I am not about to do it as a pensioner," she added. Shabangu said she wished to cooperate with the government departments to find out who misused her personal information to defraud the department. "Iâ€™m afraid that this money will prevent me and my children from receiving government benefits. Government can keep her money, All I want is my pension money and my UIF money. I worked as a cleaner and a domestic worker all life. I have never been a teacher," she said. The spokesperson for the Department of Labour in KwaZulu-Natal, Nhlanhla Khumalo, asked for Shabanguâ€™s details to be forwarded to him so they can investigate the matter. Spokesperson for the Department of Education in KZN Muzi Mahlambi said that they will start an internal investigation in collaboration with the department of Labour regarding Shabanguâ€™s claims.