Row over allegations that 180 000 Road Accident Fund claims remain unpaid
Cape Town - Lawyers and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) are at loggerheads over allegations that 180 000 claims remain unpaid, leaving victims in dire straits – a claim denied by the RAF.
Personal Injury Plaintiff Lawyers Association chairperson advocate Justin Erasmus said the RAF must adhere to the orders given by the courts, saying the situation was dire in 2020, but now it had deteriorated even further.
Erasmus said the RAF may be telling the courts that all claims over 180 days have been settled, but that was simply not the case.
He said the association was doing a formal survey among all its members to determine exactly how much money was outstanding, how many claimants have been affected and what the average waiting period has been.
He said claimants whose cases had been heard in court and who had been awarded a settlement were still waiting anything from 394 days to 854 days without any payment.
"All of this has had a significant impact on the victims of road accidents, as well as the experts, both defendant and plaintiff whose valuable expertise is required to ensure fair and equitable settlements of the road accident victims’ claims."
"The current non-payment situation by the RAF is simply not sustainable and placing everyone at risk," said Erasmus.
A representative from Houghton Harper Attorneys, Giusi Harper, said they had many desperate clients whose payments had been outstanding for far longer than 180 days.
"When we approached the sheriff, he was not in possession of these alleged duplicate payments and the RAF has not been able to provide any proof of the alleged payments actually taking place," she said.
Harper said to date, their attempts to obtain the bank account number into which the RAF alleged they deposited the money have been unsuccessful.
"They can’t provide proof of what they allege. We are frustrated as we find ourselves in an impossible situation," she said.
Erasmus said the situation was not uncommon and was playing out at law firms across the country. RAF spokesperson William Maphutha said there was no such crisis within the entity and there were no 180 000 claimants suffering.
He said the RAF continued to pay claimants in line with the payment strategy of paying the oldest debt first.
Maphutha said the RAF had made undertakings and commitments to the court in November 2020 and would be reporting its progress.
"We continue to implement the new model and that should make RAF a sustainable entity with affordable administrative costs. Spending R10.6 billion on legal costs is simply not sustainable, especially where more than 95% of the matters end up being settled," said Maphutha.