KZN widower loses claim to wife’s R4m death benefit

Durban – AN Umhlatuzana widower who fought for a slice of his wife’s R3.8 million provident fund, despite their separation, has failed yet again.

In June 2016, business and tax specialist Krean Naidoo’s wife Samantha died.

Even though she failed to complete a death beneficiary nomination form with the Coca-Cola Shanduka Beverages Provident Fund, she made her parents the sole beneficiaries of her estate in her will.

A successful high court application subsequently declared Samantha’s will valid.

The fund’s board made a decision to pay the R3 829 618 death benefit into Samantha’s estate.

Naidoo was advised he was not eligible for the benefit and subsequently lodged a complaint with the Pension Funds Adjudicator to investigate.

In April 2019, his complaint was dismissed.

It was found that eight months before her death, Samantha moved out of their common home and later initiated divorce proceedings against Naidoo.

When they married, the couple also agreed on a deed of settlement that neither party had a claim to the assets of the other.

The adjudicator also found no written evidence that the deceased intended to reverse her decision, as alleged by Naidoo, and that he had proved he was not financially dependent on the deceased.

Naidoo was aggrieved by the decision.

He submitted an application for reconsideration to the Financial Services Tribunal, claiming he was a legal dependant.

In September 2019, the tribunal set aside the adjudicator’s decision.

It found that the adjudicator failed to fully investigate the circumstances regarding Naidoo’s allegation that he and Samantha were to reconcile.

The tribunal referred Naidoo back to the adjudicator for reconsideration.

In October, the adjudicator invited all parties to a sitting to make further submissions.

Naidoo submitted that he had provided the adjudicator with information and he had nothing to add.

However, the pension fund submitted that Naidoo did not submit any evidence to prove he and his wife were reconciling before her death and Naidoo’s claims were “purely hearsay”.

“It submitted that by his admission, the complainant and the deceased last communicated 3 weeks prior to her death, which is highly non-indicative of reconciliation,” said the pension fund in their submissions.

The pension fund said Naidoo could have produced telephonic records or WhatsApp messages and SMSes to prove his claims.

Sworn affidavits by the deceased’s mother, a friend and an attorney were also submitted to prove there was no chance of reconciliation.

The mother also submitted that her daughter planned to emigrate alone to Canada.

The pension fund put forward that Samantha was afraid of Naidoo and did not want him to know where she lived after they separated.

“The deceased sought to rather meet with him in a public space as she feared the complainant.”

He also failed to prove he was financially dependent on her.

It was discovered that he had two immovable properties registered in his name, he was gainfully employed, young and qualified enough to earn a good living and care for himself.

In the judgment, the fund adjudicator, Muvhango Lukhaimane, ordered that the complaint could not succeed and it was subsequently dismissed.


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