Picture: 123RF/KRIT CHANUT
Picture: 123RF/KRIT CHANUT

I have an interest in a small printing business in Cape Town. One of the employees is from Zimbabwe and has been in the job for more than 12 years, making monthly payments to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and SA Revenue Service (Sars) throughout this time.

We registered for the UIF Temporary Employer Relief Scheme (Ters) last year and the company was reimbursed for a portion of its salary payments – in all cases except that of the Zimbabwean employee.

We have been trying for over six months to find out the reasons for this nonpayment but continually come up against a brick wall at the UIF.

We have heard that the systems and processes at the UIF Ters programme were tightened in mid-2020 after wholesale looting by both employers and employees.

We have been told for months that Ters is verifying the details of foreigners with both home affairs and Sars. This requirement is entirely understandable but the frustration arises because you are unable to follow the process and we are beginning to seriously doubt whether anything is being done at all.

The employee in question spent more than four hours at the home affairs office in Cape Town earlier this week, but after eventually getting to speak to someone was told that everything relating to liaison between Ters, home affairs and Sars is being done in Pretoria, and the Cape Town office is unable to assist.

Surely the three departments mentioned have computerised records and it should be easy to do the verifications and advise the applicant should there be any problems in this regard?

The outstanding claim is material to our small business, especially in the light of the difficult economic climate. It is extremely frustrating that we are unable to resolve the issue.

Is subtle xenophobia at play, or has the fund just run out of money? I am told that there are thousands who are in the same boat, and the matter has added relevance now that there is talk of reopening the Ters claims process during the current level-4 restrictions.

Derek Pryce

Via e-mail

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