Accident fund bosses 'relieved of duties'
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By Moshoeshoe Monare
The cash-strapped Road Accident Fund has been hit by another scandalous blow - the suspension of its chairperson and chief executive.
RAF chairperson Willie Huma and chief executive Humphrey Kgomongwe have been suspended amid a litany of allegations over the financial, administrative and operational running of the organisation.
The suspension of the two RAF executives comes 10 days after Transport Minister Jeff Radebe gave the fund an ultimatum to shape up, following a report by the auditor-general stating that the RAF had been rocked by corruption to the tune of R500-million a year.
According to Wrenelle Stander, the director-general of the Transport Department, Radebe will be probing the suspension of the two officials.
"In relation to the CEO, the board will be doing the investigations. In relation to the chairperson, the minister is the only person who can institute an inquiry."
"He is busy perusing the documents. Should he (deem it necessary), he will set up an inquiry, but he has not made that decision yet," Stander said.
Between May 2001 and March last year, the fund, which is charged with compensating road-accident victims, suspended 11 employees with full salary for not less than 10 months, at a cost of R5,3-million.
The officials suspended for corruption and administrative offences included IT, human resources and legal executives. Some have been reinstated, while others were dismissed.
RAF official Sirita Cronjé was diplomatic on Tuesday about the suspensions of Kgomongwe and Huma.
"They have been relieved of their duties. The chairperson has been relieved of his duties as the chairperson of the RAF, but he remains an ordinary board member."
"The CEO of the fund has requested that he voluntarily be relieved of his duties, pending the outcome of investigations of untested allegations," Cronjé said.
She refused to disclose the nature of the allegations.
Kgomongwe and Huma could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night.
The developments followed the recent blasting of the fund by the office of the auditor-general, which said the RAF's financial plight had deteriorated to such an extent that it would have exhausted all its reserves by the end of the 2003/2004 financial year.
As a result of corruption, the fund - which received R2,8-billion in fuel levies from motorists in the 2002/2003 financial year - was unable to pay road accident victims.