Pretoria - The Law Society of South Africa has expressed concern over the treatment of legal practitioners who queued for two nights in the Pretoria CBD in a desperate bid to obtain compensation for their clients.
Things ran more smoothly yesterday as a more structured approach with time slots had been implemented.
Hundreds of legal practitioners queued at Sammy Marks Square on Sunday and Monday nights in order to take up the offer from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to negotiate block settlements for accident victims.
Most had to turn back as the office did not open on Monday.
By Tuesday afternoon, scores of those who had camped out at the square could not be helped by the time the office closed in the late afternoon.
But there was light in the tunnel, as Tuesday ended with some order when the practitioners were divided into groups.
The wait during the cold nights outside the venue paid off, as the grouping was done in accordance with their place in the queue and reflected on the list circulated by the RAF officials.
An attorney said they were told to return on specific days, in accordance with the group to which they were allotted, based on their place in the line.
The line moved at a snail’s pace on day two of the block settlements, and those who had been sleeping at the square reported that by late afternoon, they were not even close to halfway in the queue.
The attorneys who managed to get into the office to present their cases for a possible settlement, confirmed on their way out that their matters had been settled.
Things ran much smoother yesterday, due to the time slots allocated to the legal practitioners, which resulted in no one having to camp outside for a spot.
This was done as the RAF earlier said the practitioners would be assisted on a “first come, first serve” basis.
More good news for the possible relief in the thousands of pending RAF matters is that while the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, could not cope with the clogged rolls regarding the matters, lawyers have offered their services to act as judges in this regard – free of charge.
Several advocates are serving as acting judges to assist with the backlog in RAF matters and the attorneys profession is also on board.
The Pretoria Attorneys’ Association has also asked its members to come forward to offer their services to act on the Bench from the third term that starts in the middle of next month.
Attorneys will volunteer for about a week each to deal with RAF trials, default judgments and other applications regarding the RAF. As things stand, the rolls are so clogged that new RAF matters can receive a trial date only in October 2025.
As there is a limited number of judges available to hear the number of matters at the court, it is feared that the next trial dates would soon be in 2026.
The Pretoria Attorneys’ Association said it would be expected of its members who are acting as judges to deliver swift judgments, which will, in turn, open the rolls for other applications to be heard without long delays.
Each attorney will also make use of a candidate attorney to act as its registrar during their stints on the Bench.
The association is expected to present its lists of acting judges to Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba today.