MBABANE: Phindile Dlamini, the Commissioner General of His Majesty’s Correctional Services has ordered the removal of officers' parents from the list of beneficiaries in the controversial multi-million Death Benefit Fund.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News uncovered founding documents of the His Majesty's Correctional Death Benefit Fund suggesting that officers, their spouses and parents form part of the list of beneficiaries, however, the Commissioner General who operationalised the Fund subsequently reneged, saying parents of the officers will no longer be part of the beneficiaries.
It has been disclosed that the Commissioner General allegedly took the decision to kick out parents of the officers after learning that the Fund, established and launched on or around August 2020 might soon be flooded with claims from officers and subsequently collapse as a majority of the elderly were dying due to COVID-19 complications, officers were highly expected to start benefiting this month of February 2021.
When this publication questioned the Commissioner General on Saturday on why she violated the Constitution of the Death Benefit Fund and 'removed' the parents of the officers from the list of beneficiaries despite deducting money from their salaries through the Treasury Department, she joined the fast lane and avoided questions.
But on or around 04 February 2021, Senior Superintendent Gugulethu Dlamini, the Spokesperson of His Majesty's Correctional Services told the Times of eSwatini that the COVID-19 challenges that resulted to an increase in the death rate among officers' parents especially in the month of January 2021 was threatening the existence of the Death Benefit Fund.
"The new twist in events due to the new COVID-19 variant has presented one of the unprecedented challenges, as the department has observed a massive death rate among parents of officers especially in the month of January 2021" said the Correctional Services Spokesperson when speaking to the Times.
But insiders within the department of Correctional Services told this publication that the Commissioner General decision was influenced by the fact tha many elderly people were dying in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic hence the Death Benefit Fund might be flooded with claims and subsequently collapse few months after its establishment.
“We were forced to join this Death Benefit Fund last year August 2020 and told that after six months we would start forwarding claims, according the founding documents, we must start forwarding claims now in February. But, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with our parents dying and we were then told that we can no longer claim on their behalf, imagine some of us cancelled our burial policies with other Insurance companies to join this Death Benefit Fund and now this, it’s very unfair”, said a junior officer who spoke to this publication.
On or around the 17th July 2020, this Swaziland News launched an investigation and subsequently obtained documents marked ‘confidential’ suggesting that the Commissioner General’s backed Death Benefit Fund stands to collect about E2million per annum and or over E10million in the next five years from the pockets of the about 2000 correctional officers who were expected to contribute E100.00 each monthly for a period of three months and thereafter E50.00 per month till death.
It has been disclosed that subsequent to the investigative report by this Swaziland News, Senior Assistant Commissioner Makhosonkhe Simelane, a member of the His Majesty Correctional Services Executive Command took the Commissioner General Phindile Dlamini to court to challenge the controversial fund, he alleged that officers were never consulted when the Death Benefit Fund was operationalised, but forced to take orders.
"For instance, I personally suggested to the team that Article 3.1 of the Constitution should be deleted and joining the fund should be optional, reason being that most of us have already secured enough death benefit covers and or policies which are predominately far better than the one offered by the institution" read part of papers submitted by the Senior Assistant Commissioner in court.
Correctional Services Commissioner General Phindile Dlamini