Answer to a question from a reader

How can I lift the "red flag" on my persal number and get my pension pay-out?

The short answer

Here are some suggestions about what you could do.

The whole question

I worked for the Gauteng Department of Health for ten years as an assistant nurse. On my seventh year, I applied to further my studies within the department (HWSETA) for me to become a registered nurse. It was approved and I was excited. During my 3rd year, I had personal misfortune and my wife passed away. As a result, I hit a brain block and could no longer attend my studies. I went into temporary depression so I absconded from college and unable to contact work.

As result I lost my studies and my job, by the time I resurfaced at work, I was advised to fill up the retirement forms under termination. I did so, and I was told that "the department is going to put a red flag on my persal number"; which means I will no longer be eligible to work at any government institutions.

During my time waiting for my pension pay-out, I received no money and I was told that I owe the department R419,000 for tuition fees. Now I have no money, no work, with two children, and I have a chronic illness. Is there a chance I can negotiate with department to give some of the pension money? What can I do to make amends with department to lift the "red flag" so I can able to apply for another work as an assistant nurse?

The long answer

If we take your pension pay out first: The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) usually pays out the resignation cash benefit after four to twelve weeks, if your tax affairs are in order. To get this payment, you would have to give the Human Resources Department at your work the following documents:

  • A certified copy of your ID

  • Certified copies of children’s birth certificates

  • A completed Z864 form (personal details form)

  • A completed Z894 form (banking details form)

  • Resignation choice form

Then Human Resources would fill in a Z102 form (a Withdrawal from Fund Application) and send it to GEPF along with the above documents.

You can contact the GEPF on their toll-free Call Centre number at 0800 117 669 if you need to clarify anything. You would need to give them your full name, ID number, pension fund member number and contact details when you speak to them.

In terms of negotiating with the Gauteng Health Department about paying off the tuition fees and lifting the red flag on your PERSAL number so that you can be employed again as an assistant nurse, you could investigate whether an organisation representing nurses, like the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA), would take up your case and represent you to the Health Department, if you were a member. 

You can contact DENOSA here:

Head office telephone: 012 343 2315/6/7

Membership: 012 343 3622

Email: [email protected] 

You could also contact the South African Nursing Council which is the body that sets and maintains nursing education standards. You could explain the circumstances that led you to drop out in your third year of studying, and ask them if there is any way you could rehabilitate yourself and resume your studies.  

These are their contact details: 

Call centre: 012 420 100

Email: [email protected]

[email protected]

Answered on July 9, 2020, 10:38 a.m.

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