Spending on veterans speeds up

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Deputy Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV) Minister Thabang Makwetla and Military Veterans Department director general Tsepe Motumi are speeding up veterans spending in their efforts to disburse R300 million before the end of the current financial year.

In addition to a nation roll-out of healthcare cards to registered and verified veterans at a cost of R2 million, a further R4 million has been set aside for bursaries to assist with further education of veterans and their dependents.

Speaking ahead of Monday’s healthcare card roll-out in Bloemfontein, Makwetla said 505 houses would also be handed to veterans in the current financial year but did not give any provincial breakdown of numbers or cost.

Motumi is spearheading a national drive that will see 4 800 veterans receive their healthcare cards by December 5. When the final cards have been handed out in the Eastern Cape on that day it will have cost R2 million.

More than 1 700 cards have been issued in the current round exceeding the target set to date and Motumi is confident the 4 800 mark will be reached by December 5.

Another part of former Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s ambitious plan to bring veterans back into the fold of civil society by providing housing to those who have registered and been verified by the department is also falling into place.

The first veterans to be on the receiving end of this Sisulu inspired largesse are two World War Two veterans living outside Mafikeng who received keys to new houses earlier this year.

Last month Motumi said the newly formed SA National Military Veterans Association would disburse R300 million before the March 31, 2013/14 financial year-end.

Benefits include healthcare, assistance with jobs and housing through to veterans’ memorials and burial insurance as well as free and/or subsidised access to public transport, education support, counselling and entrepreneurial support.

All benefits will be accessed through a means test with each individual evaluated via a needs assessment and on a case by case basis. According to the official Military Veterans website to qualify for healthcare veterans have to be registered on the Department’s database and earn less than R300 000 a year.

Makwetla and Motumi have also put measures in place to prevent fraud and other criminal acts during verification processes.

Speaking after a veterans’ verification round that took place in Gauteng earlier this year, Motumi said: “Tightening and prevention of fraudulent attempts to by those are being verified as well as those who would be accomplices to such attempts is being given the necessary attention”.