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Our reference: MR L.M. KOBRIN
The Honourable Ms Dipuo Peters
Dear Honourable Minister
ROAD ACCIDENT FUND AND ROAD ACCIDENT BENEFIT SCHEME
I read with interest the full page advertisement which contained your statement on the Road Accident Fund and Road Accident Benefit Scheme which was published in the Sunday Times on 24th March 2015.
As an Attorney in a Practice which does a fair amount of matters in which we lodge and prosecute claims with and against the Road Accident Fund in respect of victims of road accident who seek compensation for the personal injuries they have sustained in such accidents I believe it appropriate for me to draw to your urgent attention the manner in which such claims are administered by the Road Accident Fund.
I believe it appropriate to attach to this letter a copy of a recent High Court Judgment handed down by Bertelsmann J in the Pretoria High Court. It is the Judgment of
KETSEKELE VS ROAD ACCIDENT FUND CASE NUMBER 32492/2015 HANDED DOWN ON 8TH MAY2015
The Learned Judge had occasion in this matter to be sharply critical of the Attorneys and Counsel acting for both parties in this matter and as a result of their conduct which he found wholly inappropriate in the manner in which this claim was handled ordered that none of the legal representatives involved in the matter could charge for their services in this matter and referred his Judgment to the Pretoria Bar Council and the Law Society of the Northern Provinces to investigate their conduct and to possibly commence disciplinary proceedings against them.
Whist I believe that the conduct of these Attorneys and Advocates cannot be condoned, the Learned Judge goes to great lengths to explain the conduct of the Road Accident Fund and its employees directly and sets out the present situation which exists in the Pretoria High Court regarding Defended matters which come to Trial before that Court in matters involving the Road Accident Fund. He describes the situation in paragraphs 39 to 42 of his Judgment and I urge you to please take note as to how the Learned Judge backs u his statement that the way in which the Road Accident Fund Claims Handlers handle these claims constitutes a dereliction of the duty to the prejudice of victims. Bertelsmann J then graphically outlines how this affects the Pretoria Division of the High Court by explaining in details the number of matters set down for Trial, the percentage of these which are matters involving the Road Accident Fund and what transpires with these matters on the Trial Date. He calculated the wastage in legal costs in just one Court term in the Pretoria High Court amounting to between R110 million to R150 million.
At paragraph 41 The Learned Judge, about the impending institution of the RABS Bill into legislation, comments as follows:
“……….It dies contain a worrisome proposal, however, that the new agency will absorb the existing Fund’s structures. With such assimilation the new agency will be exposed to the risk of perpetuating the Fund’s culture of indifference to human suffering and financial waste. If so, the new agency will be saddled with an inheritas damnosa, a cursed inheritance that would doom it to fail virtually immediately. The compensation of road accident victims requires a radical change that should be free of the shackles of an institution that does neither comply with its duty to uphold the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution nor with the duties imposed on it by statute.”
Now, as stated above, a fair amount of the work done by our Firm relates to claims of Road Accident Victims who seek compensation. A considerable amount of time is spent in both the Johannesburg and Pretoria High Courts and our experiences is that Bertelsmann J has accurately described the prevailing situation accurately.
In the result I unashamedly place on record that I share the views of the Learned Judge and urge you to urgently withdraw the Road Accident Fund Benefit Scheme legislation and to institute an urgent investigation into the Road Accident Fund administration and you will find it necessary to overhaul the existing structures and replace them with competent people as if the present system is administered competently the intolerable waste will be eliminated and victims will be compensated adequately. In my respectful view these radical changes proposed by Bertelsmann J are necessary given the present status of accidents occurring on a daily basis on our roads.
I anxiously look forward to the receipt of your response hereto,
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