The Road Accident Fund (RAF) has welcomed the conviction and sentencing of a KwaZulu-Natal former attorney who swindled money from his clients.
Langelihle Dube was last week sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for stealing R2.3 million from clients.
In the RAF-related case, R1.4m was paid into Dube's account after a youngster was seriously injured in a car crash. However, Dube failed to make payment to the boy's family. Dube also stole R900,000 life insurance payment from a deceased estate.
RAF chief executive officer, Collins Letsoalo slammed lawyers who use the fund as a gravy train by either defrauding the fund or claimants.
"It is outrageous that claimants are taken advantage of by the same legal experts who are supposed to protect their interests. The RAF remains committed to the pursuit of fraudulent individuals in order to ensure that the RAF funds are paid to deserving road accident victims," he said.
He said in February, the Johannesburg Magistrate Court will sentence three people who’ve been found guilty on more than 400 fraud charges.
"The RAF plays a critical role in testifying at these court cases against dishonourable attorneys, RAF staff, medical experts, and any other corrupt individuals whose goal is to steal from road crash victims," Letsoalo added.
According to the RAF, it has successfully halted fraudulent claims valued over R2 billion from being paid over the last three financial years.
Letsoalo said a total of 713 claims were repudiated in 2022/2023, 448 in 2021/22, and 4,172 in 2020/21.
He said in the past three financial years, there has been a total of 32 arrests: 15 in 2022/23, 12 in 2021/22, and five in 2020/2021.
"The highest sentence over this period was a 12-year direct imprisonment of an attorney. Internally, investigations led to the suspension of seven staff members between 2020/21 and 2022/23. Six employees resigned during further probes or hearings from 2020/21 to 2022/23,“ Letsoalo said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of cases were referred to the South African Police Service (SAPS) following preliminary investigations.
The RAF said in 2022/23, 449 cases were referred to the SAPS, 270 in 2021/2022, and 172 in 2020/21.