Masemola v Special Pensions Appeal Board and Another (CCT260/18) [2019] ZACC 39

15th October 2019

Masemola v Special Pensions Appeal Board and Another (CCT260/18) [2019] ZACC 39

Click here to read the full judgment on Saflii

[1] Many men and women contributed to the liberation struggle.  They were engaged in the service of political organisations in pursuit of one cause – the liberation of the majority of South African citizens from apartheid.  As a consequence of the repressive measures adopted by the apartheid regime against its opponents, some struggle activists ended up being imprisoned for many years, others were in exile and engaged in the struggle outside South Africa, and others were prevented by law from being in certain places.  As a result, most of these political activists were not gainfully employed and thus unable to provide a pension for themselves.  Through the efforts of all those involved, the liberation struggle eventually contributed to the establishment of a democratic government.

[2] In recognition of the sacrifices made by struggle activists, section 189 of the interim Constitution required that legislation be enacted to provide for the payment of special pensions by the national government to persons who had made sacrifices or served the public interest in the establishment of a democratic constitutional order.[1]  The Special Pensions Act[2] (Act) which was enacted in 1996 did just that.  It also prescribed rules for determining the persons who were entitled to receive those special pensions.[3]

[3] This matter comes before us as an application for leave to appeal against an order of the Supreme Court of Appeal that upheld an appeal against a judgment of the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria (High Court).  It concerns the disqualification of receipt of a special pension and the effect of a presidential pardon in this regard.