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ConCourt to rule on struggle veteran’s fight to get pension reinstated

Mashilo Masemola (91) took his fight to the apex court to have his pension reinstated after he was convicted of fraud but later pardoned by former President Jacob Zuma.

FILE: The Constitutional Court. Picture: Clement Manyathela/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court is now considering whether recipients of special pensions who forfeited them due to criminal convictions should receive those pensions if they are pardoned.

Struggle veteran Mashilo Masemola (91) took his fight to the apex court to have his pension reinstated after he was convicted of fraud but later pardoned by former President Jacob Zuma in 2011.

On Tuesday, the court heard arguments including whether Masemola had forfeited his pension permanently.

Masemola, who lost his pension in 2008 because he was convicted of fraud, wants his pension back after it was suspended due to his conviction.

But according to Advocate Zinzile Matebese, Masemola shouldn’t now be given his pension.

“If you're going to be convicted of serious criminal offences that shows disrespect for the Constitution you fought for, I see it is as not a suspension but a permanent disqualification,” Matebese said.

But as Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said the court would now decide whether being pardoned allowed one to go back and receive a grant.

“How can it be permanent when on behalf of state and the people you offended, the number one citizen exercising constitutional powers says we understand and you are forgiven and goes further to say we expunge this from the record,” he said.

Advocate Matebese conceded that the suspension was for payments and not qualifying for the pension.

But the court would have to make a final decision that would have far-reaching implications for many South Africans in similar circumstances.