Court rules RAF applicants can now use old forms for claims

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Published Mar 25, 2024


The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria has slammed directives that make it very difficult for some road accident victims to lodge claims, as they have to adhere to a long list of requirement before the fund will accept lodgement of a claim.

In what is hailed as a victory for these victims, a full bench (three judges) declared unlawful the new RAF1 claim form published by the minister of transport in July 2022, as well as a similar board notice published in the Government Gazette in May that year.

This followed an application by several legal bodies, which said the directives made it near impossible for road accident victims to lodge their claims.

Nicolette de Witt of the Pretoria Attorneys Association, which joined the proceedings as a friend of the court, explained that at the heart of this review application was the RAF’s new claim submission requirements, which made it compulsory for prospective claimants to submit a long list of documents and details for a claim to be accepted by the RAF.

The new claim requirements replaced the old claim forms, where claimants did not need to submit all these details at the stage of lodging a claim.

De Witt said in terms of the new form, new claims not checking all the tick boxes for these new requirements were not accepted by the RAF.

“In fact, such claims were not registered on the RAF’s claims system and thus not given a claim number.”

Some of the details required by the fund on this new form included medical-legal reports, Sars tax returns, salary slips and a letter from the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) confirming the claimant was not receiving a government grant.

Complaints levelled by legal bodies and attorneys against this included that at the time of lodging a claim, many people do not have this information at hand. These were usually supplied when they became available.

Many especially regarded the demand for medical-legal reports at the claim stage as not viable, as these took time.

In setting aside the new claim form, the judges said they did not know the reasons that prompted the then minister of transport Fikile Mbalula to publish the RAF1 form, as he did not explain this to the court.

But they found this move was unlawful in that it failed to meet the most basic requirement of rationality and legality.

“To exercise a power, simply to show that the power reposes with the minister, and without regard to the substance of the proposed administrative action, is not rational because it is performative but not based on reason,” the court said.

The judges said the point of the RAF Act was to pay compensation and the claim form should adhere to the Act. They said the minister must go back to the drawing board to come up with a new version of the claim form.

Consideration should be given to what information is required in lodging a claim, what information would be useful and what should happen if the information and documentation that is required is not reasonably available.

The court said the lodging of a claim is an essential step in seeking compensation under the RAF Act.

“It must not become an instrument that obstructs valid claims, and in doing so, visits unfair discrimination upon poor people.”

The judges said they were not saying the form did in fact infringe on these rights, but they urged the minister to bring the rights of those lodging claims into reckoning.

While the minister has six months in which to go back to the drawing board regarding a new claim form, the court said there must be certainty in the meantime for the thousands of people who lodge claims.

The said those whose claims were not accepted in light of the now reviewed claim form, and others wishing to institute claims, could for the time being revert back to the old (2008) claim forms – which are less restrictive.

Those who have lodged claims but whose claims were rejected (in terms of the reviewed form) have until September 30 to resubmit their claims.

Pretoria News

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