Numsa makes submissions to Scopa on appalling state of Road Accident Fund

Picture: File

Picture: File

Published Sep 13, 2023


Johannesburg – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) says it has made submissions to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on the abysmal state of the Road Accident Fund (RAF).

Recently, the DA indicated that the RAF had been run into the ground. This came after a joint memorandum letter addressed to Parliament on the “crisis” at the RAF. The letter was signed by lawyers from 10 organisations, including the Law Society of South Africa, the Black Lawyers’ Association and the National Democratic Lawyers’ Association as well as the South African Medico-legal Association.

On Tuesday, Numsa spokesperson Phakamile-Hlubi Majola said in its submissions to Scopa the union had indicated some of the key issues preventing the institution from performing to its fullest potential.

These, she said, include the termination of the panel of attorneys, which has created a major problem for the RAF, particularly in relation to appointing experts to conduct assessments on claims so they can confirm the seriousness of the injuries.

“Without the attorneys, it means that they cannot counter what the plaintiff attorneys are demanding. They must pay what is demanded by the claimants because there are no reports and no attorneys to defend the RAF and present to the court an alternative. This has led to an unbearable backlog left to be processed by the few claim handlers remaining at the RAF,” she said.

Numsa said it supported Judge Legodi's judgment, which states that the CEO of RAF, Collins Letsoalo, must personally pay for the legal costs in two RAF matters because the fund did not do its work.

“Instead of correcting the problem, RAF management has chosen to blame hard-working employees and suspended some of them for failing to load court orders,” Hlubi-Majola said.

When it comes to the Integrated Claims Management System, she said the RAF said it intended to automate the assessment of claims and replace claims handlers with artificial intelligence as part of restructuring.

Numsa has rejected this call, saying if this is allowed, experienced claim handlers who are admitted attorneys and those who have in-depth knowledge of the RAF Act and the laws governing vehicle accident claims will be dismissed.

“The new system may also result in workers being forced to move to far-flung areas if they want to keep their jobs. The RAF management confirmed in Section 189A consultations and in the Central Bargaining Council meetings that the new business model and the ICM will see 472 employees become redundant.

“The majority of those who will be fortunate to keep their jobs will be forced to relocate, and if they do not agree to the relocation, they will be forcefully retrenched.  As it stands, the Road Accident Fund is short-staffed, and the manufactured redundancy will lead to the majority of claims being dormant and not paid on time,” she said.

Other issues flagged by Numsa include the unbundling of RAF without following proper procedures, the outsourcing of the call centre without consultation, and occupational health and safety hazards.

“Some of the issues that employees of the RAF are faced with, particularly Menlyn employees, are occupational health and safety hazards. Boxes were lying around, especially in the passages; employees were forced to use dysfunctional toilets, especially toilets for persons with disabilities, because of the poor state of other facilities.

“The sad reality is that our colleagues with disabilities have to use one toilet downstairs, and the same toilet is shared with many other people, including visitors. This is an inconvenience and poses health risks to them,” Numsa said.

The Star