The Road Accident Fund (RAF) has expressed its disappointment with the R60 000 fine given to an East London man found guilty of submitting a fraudulent RAF claim for R5 million.
The RAF was concerned that the lenient sentence sent the wrong message to would-be fraudsters, spokesperson McIntosh Polela said.
This week, Tubalomthandazo Butshingi, 32, was convicted and sentenced in the East London Magistrate’s court for misrepresenting information on the claim he submitted to the RAF.
He lied that he had fractured his ankle in a hit and run in September 2020. On further investigation, the RAF’s Forensic Investigation Department and hospital records revealed he had slipped and fallen, and the case was referred to the Hawks.
Butshingi was given the option by the court of paying the fine or serving three years in prison. A further three years was suspended for five years on condition he was not convicted of fraud during that period.
Polela said that while the RAF would have preferred direct imprisonment to a fine, in order send a clear message to potential fraudsters, the fund respected the court’s decision.
He said fraud was endemic at the RAF, with R2.6 billion worth of fraudulent claims stopped over the past three financial years after they were lodged for compensation.
“Nonetheless, the RAF continues to fight corruption internally and externally, as it presents a significant risk to the fund’s assets, service delivery, efficiency and reputation.
“Perpetrators such as doctors, attorneys, RAF employees, road accident victims and employees of corporate companies who have access to road crash information, will continue to be arrested and prosecuted.”
An attorney was arrested on Wednesday following allegations that he pocketed a R2m payment from the RAF, intended for his client.
The Hawks, in conjunction with East London Crime Intelligence, apprehended the foreign national, 52, on charges of fraud and corruption.
The investigation followed an alleged hit and run in the Goodwood area of Cape Town in July 2011.
It is reported that a minor was struck by an unidentified vehicle that fled the scene.
Subsequent to the incident, a claim was filed with the fund on behalf of the minor, through legal representatives in Southernwood, East London.
However, when the victim enquired about her payment, red flags were raised, as the purported successful claim of more than R2m had allegedly been deposited into a trust account of the law firm where the suspect served as the sole signatory.
The matter was reported to the Serious Commercial Crime Investigation team of the Hawks for investigation. The investigation uncovered that the funds intended for the victim had never reached her. Instead, they had allegedly been misappropriated by the suspect for his personal use.
He was arrested and is expected to appear in the East London Specialised Commercial Crime Court this week.
The fund has recently also welcomed the conviction and sentencing of a former KwaZulu-Natal attorney who had swindled money from his clients.
Langelihle Dube was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for stealing R2.3m from clients.
An amount of R1.4m was paid into Dube’s account after a youngster was seriously injured in a car crash. However, Dube failed to pay the money over to the boy’s family. Dube also stole a 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.