City Power employee in payout battle after 2016 car accident
Johannesburg – A City Power employee who was severely injured in a car accident while on duty in 2016, is desperately seeking answers from her employer regarding the non-payment of compensation for the injuries she sustained.
In September 2016, City Power employee Sifiso Twala, 36, was involved in a collision while on duty with three colleagues in a work truck.
“Most of the impact happened on my side because I was sitting on the passenger side. I was the only one who was airlifted to the hospital because of the injuries I sustained,” she said.
Twala was airlifted to Netcare Milpark Hospital, Joburg, and underwent an operation where screws and metal rods were installed in her legs and spent two weeks in ICU.
She said as a result of her accident, she could not give birth or enjoy life in general and do activities like using the bathtub or walking, standing and sitting for more than 20 minutes at a time.
“When the doctor told me I couldn’t have kids again, imagine what I had to deal with? This destroyed me more than the injuries. I have to deal with that every day and on the other side, when I want answers about my compensation, I’m told that I’m opening a can of worms,” she said.
Twala, who returned to work earlier this month, said while she was recovering from her accident, she would enquire about compensation for the injuries.
“They sent me an offer with breakdown calculations and in the email it said that 75% of the total was being deducted by Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases (COID).
“When I questioned why COID was deducting such a huge chunk of money when they are supposed to pay me, I was told that I was opening a can of worms,” she said.
City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena confirmed the utility sent an offer from its insurer on May 20.
“The reason why it took long is that the claim requirements include all medical certificates before an offer is made which she could only provide upon her return to work.
“She has unfortunately refused the offer of settlement as proposed by the insurers,” Mangena said.
The email seen by The Star showed Twala’s initial settlement offer was around R260 000 and changed to about R66 000 following the 75% deduction.
Twala said she then went to the COID offices at the Department of Labour in Braamfontein for clarity on the matter.
“I met with the assistant director who explained to me that there is no such thing and that they didn’t even have the authority to deduct money from a third-party insurance,” she said.
Twala said she was concerned her employer said 75% of the settlement would be deducted by COID. However, COID denied it.
“It doesn’t make sense to me and there is something not right happening,” she said.
Mangena said for all injuries on duty, the Group Personal Accident was a top-up cover to COID. So the settlement amount can be referenced back to the policy.
“In terms of the policy, it states that ‘in the event of accidental bodily injury arising during the course and scope of employment of an insured person resulting in temporary, total disablement and the valid claim having been lodged with Compensation Commissioner in terms of the Compensation for Occupational and Diseases Act No.130 of 1993 (COID Act). The insurers upon request from the policy holder shall settle the temporary total disability claim at 25%',” he said.
Mangena said City Power followed all the necessary processes, in line with the policy requirements, and that all the correspondence to Twala was transparent.
Twala said she was concerned about the deduction because she currently had hospital bills of up to about R88 000, because her insurance did not cover COID claims.
“I’m permanently physically damaged, emotionally drained and financially suffering, as this has dragged for far too long and draining my finances,” she said.