Military veterans have been urged come forward and register for government benefits before end of day today ( Friday June 17).
But they should remember to bring their force numbers, the South African Military Veterans Association (SAMVA) has said.
Government has set aside R1, 6 billion for the delivery of a “basket of benefits” to the veterans.
SAMVA provincial secretary Mike Masala said military veterans in the Cape Metro had until Friday to add their names to a database of beneficiaries.
The benefits are as a result of the Military Veterans Act defining a military veteran as a SA citizen who rendered military service to any of the military organisations involved on all sides of the South African liberation war between 1960 and 1994.
The Act, which was approved by Cabinet in 2010, stipulates benefits for such veterans.
He said the veterans included those who served in the old South African Defence Force (SADF), National Servicemen, the ANC’s Mkhonto we Sizwe and PAC’s Azanian People’s Liberation Army (Apla).
Masala said nationally there were 57 000 veterans already on the roll who should come forward for verification.
Since the registration process started last year, he said 3 500 veterans had registered in the province within a period of 14 days.
He could not say off the cuff how many veterans had registered since phase two of the registration process opened on May 28.
Friday is the last day of registration at Fort ikapa Military Base in Goodwood, he said.
He said government has set aside R1, 6 billion for veterans’ benefits which included medical care, education and pension money for those who qualify.
One of the veterans, Jimmy Xalipi, 52, who served under Apla in various countries such as Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Libya and Ethiopia said he was one of the first people to register when the programme was started.
Xalipi, who joined the war when he was 15 years old thanked “President (Jacob) Zuma and Mama (Lindiwe Sisulu) for helping us.
“Many of us are not working, some are sick and others have died. I say thank you for the government for trying to look after us.”
“It is us who brought freedom to this country. We sacrificed our lives to bring freedom to this country,” he said.
Xalipi said while he had his force number, many of his comrades did not have theirs as they were not integrated into the army after 1994. He was however optimistic that they would still benefit.
He said that those with force numbers, mostly those who served under the SADF were taking too long to come forward, delaying the rolling out of benefits. –Francis Hweshe