Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga says there is an urgent need to amend the Road Accident Fund (RAF) legislation to criminalise lawyers who exploit RAF claimants.
The Minister says there has been a pattern of complaints by the victims of vehicle crashes against the lawyers who act on their behalf.
Chikunga says part of the changes in the Act should allow victims to lodge their own claims for compensation without the need for legal assistance.
“As it is right now, I will invite anyone to see that it actually takes the Road Accident Fund to court every time by lawyers than the claimants. We were very happy when the Road Accident Fund said this year is dedicated to claimants.”
“We went ahead to appoint … in fact to establish a call centre that enables the claimants to phone directly to find out about their claims. Chairperson, definitely you will be receiving complaints from claimants continuously,” adds Chikunga.
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Chikunga explained to Parliament how law firms are ripping off claimants through the Road Accident Fund.
Adding that the legislation needs to be amended to favour claimants and not lawyers.
The RAF appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) on the status of its legal tussle with the Office of the Auditor-General due to a disagreement after the entity changed its accounting policy.
Some SCOPA members expressed concerns at the state of affairs at the RAF, saying it’s always embroiled in litigation.
There are also complaints from claimants who are not satisfied with the services they receive while the shareholder acknowledges that there are challenges at the entity, it says the legislation favours lawyers, rather than claimants.
“RAF paid a claimant through the lawyer R5.6 million, the lawyers, a white company lawyers, paid the claimant R57 000. They didn’t pay the claimant at least the R 600 000. They remain with the R5 million,” says Chikunga.
The video below is on SCOPA’s follow-up meeting with the Road Accident Fund: