THE ROAD Accident Fund’s mission is to ‘rehabilitate persons injured, compensate for injuries or death, and indemnify wrongdoers in a timely, caring and sustainable manner’. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - More than 229 000 claims were finalised by the Road Accident Fund (RAF) in the 2018/19 financial year, which represents an increase of 13% compared with the number of finalised claims in the previous year.

The Fund paid R40billion in claims - R6bn more than in the preceding year. Acting chief executive for the RAF Lindelwa Xingwana-Jabavu said R11.2bn in claims had been finalised, but could not be paid because of cash constraints.

The RAF presented its 2018/19 annual report to Parliament’s portfolio committee on transport on Wednesday. Xingwana-Jabavu said the report reflected the challenges experienced by an organisation that has not been solvent since 1981, “has been cash- strapped for the past five years, and has been the subject of nine commissions of inquiry dating to the 1940s”.

She said it also reported on the progress made during the past financial year to deliver on its objectives, “improve business processes and create an organisation that would serve the country and its citizens better in the future”.

Chairperson of the board Matsontso Mathebula said the RAF continued to operate under tough conditions characterised by difficult financial circumstances and business constraints.

“The RAF’s business model remains fault-based. This means drivers at fault are excluded from claiming compensation. In the current health-care system, injured people are often unable to access medical care in a timely manner,” he said.

Mathebula said dependents of people killed in crashes were left to fend for themselves and the RAF stood to fill the void.

In addition, Mathebula said claims were received and administered in a highly litigious and dispute-ridden environment, and many cases took considerable time to be finalised and settled.

“That prolonged hardship adds to the social and economic burdens placed on the poor and vulnerable,” he said.

Mathebula said as part its social economic role, it was the RAF’s mandate to reintegrate victims of road accidents into society, and protect at-fault drivers and their families from financial ruin.

According to its report, at a broader level, the inequitable allocation of economic resources as a result of the legislative framework continued under the current compensation model.

From the R42.6bn claim settlements in the 2018/19 financial year, R3.6bn went towards medical costs, R160million towards funeral costs, R10.3bn towards legal and other experts costs, R9.2bn towards general damages - primarily to people not seriously injured - and R19.4bn towards loss of earnings and support for those who qualified.

Mathebula said the RAF was committed to promoting and implement ing a viable social security system that catered for the core financial and medical needs of victims of road crashes.

“We are equally committed to align the RAF’s strategy to the objectives of the National Development Plan 2030, which serves as the primary policy framework for government’ strategies and initiatives.”

@SISONKE_MD

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Cape Argus