What you need to know about lodging a complaint:
1. What is the Government Employees Pension Ombud Office (the Ombud)
The Ombud office is an internal dispute resolution forum created in terms of a resolution of the Board of the
Government Employees Pension Fund (the GEPF) to resolve disputes among its members, pensioners, the GEPF, the
Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA) and the participating employers in the GEPF
2. What does the Ombud do?
The Ombud was established with effect from 1 July 2019 to resolve complaints lodged among members and pensioners,
the GEPF, the GPAA and the Employers, regarding alleged non-compliance with the Rules of Governments Employee
Pension Fund (GEPF) and the Government Employees Pension Law (GEPL).
3. Who can complaint to the Ombud?
To lodge a complaint, a complainant must be either a member, a pensioner or their beneficiaries or former spouses or
a former fund member of the GEPF. The Ombud does not have jurisdiction/ authority over private pension or provident
funds meaning that the Ombud does not service members who are not GEPF members.
4. What can you complain about?
In terms of the Ombud’s mandate, the complaint must relate to the administration of the pension fund, the
application of its rules or the failure by the employer to perform its duties in terms of the rules. In addition to
this, the complaint must allege one or more of the following:
- ➢ That the GEPF trustees have decided beyond their powers;
- ➢ That the complainant has been prejudiced due to the wrongful actions or inactions (maladministration) of GEPF or its administrator, GPAA;
- ➢ That a dispute of a fact or law has arisen concerning the administration of the Fund between the fund or any person and the complainant; or
- ➢ That an employer who participates in the Fund has not fulfilled its duties in terms of the rules of the fund.
In complaining, you should describe your relationship to the fund, set out the background facts which led to the
complaint, specify the dispute between you and the respondent/s and the possible outcome you want the Ombud to order
in your favour.
5. When can you complain to the Ombud (GEPO)
The Ombud may only consider complaints that arose within the last three years, as the Prescription Act, 68 of 1969,
provides. The exceptions to the three years are as provided for in the Prescription Act. If you want to submit a
complaint that arose more than three years before, indicate which exception provided in the Prescription Act applies
to you and how.
6. What must you do before you complain to the Ombud?
If you believe that the GEPF, GPAA or the employer has not performed its duties in terms of the Rules of the fund or
the law, you must send a letter to the GEPF, GPAA or the employer pointing out what they failed to do and allow them
30 days to correct the issues that you identified. If after 30 days, your issues remain unresolved, you can submit a
complaint to the Ombud.
7. How to submit your complaint to GEPO.
Any complaint submitted to GEPO must be in writing, meaning that, no complaints may be submitted over the telephone
or verbally. However, GEPO will still be able to assist any person over the phone or in-person on how to write and
submit a complaint. Complaints can be lodged through the post, email, GEPO website, fax or in-person at the GEPO
8. What information should be in your complaint
- ➢ Persal or employment number (if available)
- ➢ Your cell phone number and an alternate cell phone number (next of kin or neighbour) where you can be reached if yours is out of order
- ➢ Physical or Postal Address
9. Depending on who you are and what you are complaining about, you must attach all communications
about the complaint sent to GPAA or the Employer and either of the following supporting documents
- ➢ If you are a MEMBER or a PENSIONER of the fund and you are complaining about a benefit/pension payment related issue, you must attach either of the following:
- Payslip or a Benefit statement
- ➢ If you a NON-MEMBER SPOUSE (Ex-wife or ex-husband of a member)
- Decree of Divorce (Pension Interest) including, the court agreement detailing the division of the estate
- ➢ If you are a BENEFICIARY of a deceased member (child or spouse)
- Death Certificate (Death Benefit)
- Birth certificate
- Proof of marriage (marriage certificate or affidavit confirming a customary marriage)
10. The Complaint
- What must be in the complaint?
- ➢ THE BACKGROUND
- This is where you introduce yourself, that you are a member, a pensioner, a beneficiary, or a former spouse. employment terminated.
If you are not a member or a pensioner, you must indicate how you are related to the member and provide more details about the member or pensioner.
- ➢ THE DISPUTE
- This is where you indicate what happened, who did or did not do what, which they were not supposed to do and what harm did you suffer from such action and what you did you do thereafter.
- ➢ THE RELIEF
- This is where you indicate what the Ombud must order the wrongful party to do to make things right.
11. What happens to a complaint when it is received at GEPO?
- When a complaint or an enquiry is received by GEPO, it goes through a standard process, which is:
- This is where any document received by the Ombud claiming to be a complaint, is assessed to determine whether it is indeed a complaint that can be investigated and decided upon by the Ombud. If it is a complaint but it is at the wrong place, the Ombud would attempt to direct the complaint to the right place, if such a place can be identified. If it is a complaint but it is submitted after the time allowed in terms of the law (prescribed), the complainant will be informed accordingly. If it is not a complaint due to lack of information, the complainant will be assisted to provide the relevant and missing information to make it a complaint. The Ombud will reject any complaint that has all the relevant information but is insulting, inciting, demeaning or derogatory to any of the parties. These will all be done within 2 weeks of receipt of the initial documents.
- The Ombud will not accept or decide a complaint if:
- ➢ the issue complained about has not been brought to the attention of the parties who are supposed to correct it, the Ombud will not intervene until they are given 30 days to address the issues and failed. Only then, will it consider and decide on the complaint?
- ➢ the complaint that you are bringing is not what the Ombud is allowed to decide in terms of the law, the GEPF rules or its mandate.
- ➢ the complaint that you are bringing has been decided before by the Ombud or another similar legal Tribunal or a court of law or is currently being considered by another legal body that has powers to decide such issues and it started there before it was brought to the Ombud, the Ombud will not decide such issues.
- ACKNOWLEDGEMENT, RESPONSE AND REPLY
- ➢ After a complaint that can be investigated by the Ombud is received, an acknowledgement letter will be sent to the complainant informing him or her, that the complaint has been received, and tell of the process that is going to be followed before a decision is made by the Ombud.
- ➢ While the acknowledgement letter is being sent to the complainant, another letter is sent to the respondent, to which a copy of the complaint is attached, requesting the respondent to submit a response to the Ombud and the complainant on a particular date.
- ➢ When the response is received, the complainant will be requested to comment in writing (a reply) on whether he/she is satisfied with the response and if not satisfied, why.
- ➢ If the complainant after receiving the complaint is satisfied, he or she may indicate that they are satisfied and do not wish to continue with the complaint. Such matters will be regarded as settled and the file will be closed.
- THE INVESTIGATION PROCESS
- ➢ After the response and the reply are received, and the complainant is still unhappy, the complaint will be allocated to an investigator, who is a lawyer. The investigator will look at the facts of the complaint and decide what rule of the fund or the law of the country applies to the matter and
recommend to the Ombud what the possible solution should be.
- ➢ Complaints received by the Ombud are dealt with on a first-come-firstserved basis. But in exceptional circumstances, if the complainant can show that, his or her complaint is urgent and should it follow its normal process in the queue, the Ombud’s decision will be too late to undo the
harm that is currently happening to the complainant. If the reasons given are satisfactory to the Ombud, he may find a reason to intervene and decide that your complaint should be determined before others that came before it.
- ➢ The Ombud may decide that complaints that were lodged separately should be grouped and decided together if the issue or issues complained about are the same, and the outcome is likely to be the same for the affected parties. In such matters, all the parties whose complaints are joined together will be informed and provided with a joint reference number.
- ➢ The Ombud intention is to resolve complaints as quickly and efficiently as possible and normally within 4 months from the time that the complaint is received. However, some complaints may be decided quicker and others later depending on the complexity of the issues and the response time by the parties.
- ➢ During the investigation process, the complainant or the respondent may be requested to submit further information regarding an important
issue that has not been properly addressed in the complaint or the response or to comment on a legal issue that the Ombud may have to
decide upon. In such instances, a comment made by one party must also be seen by the other party.
- When all the information relating to a complaint has been gathered, the applicable rules and laws considered, the Ombud will decide the matter and
inform the parties of his decision in a document called a determination. This is where he will highlight the dispute, the information received, the applicable laws and what his decision is and the relief that he is ordering (if any). The Ombud’ ruling can only be set aside by a court of law after a review process.
12. GENERAL INFORMATION
At the Ombud, there is no formal legal process, such as pleadings in court. The basic rule at the Ombud is
that the complainant must be in writing. You can bring your complaint to the Ombud in any of the 11 official
languages of South Africa, however, you should submit your complaint in English to avoid the delays of
having your complaint translated into English. As there is no formal process, any person can write their
complaint without the assistance of a lawyer. However, if you believe that a lawyer or legal advisor will be
able to prepare and submit your complaint better, you are free to instruct a lawyer to do so. Regardless,
take note that no legal costs will be ordered by the Ombud, even if you succeed in your complaint is
successful. Thus, you will still have to pay your lawyer.
TAKE NOTE of the Ombud contact details on the letterhead of
these guidelines above.