'Slack' Road Accident Fund under fire
THE Road Accident Fund has been accused of continuously losing files and letting down road accident victims.
The Zithwane orphans, originally from Eastern Cape but now resident in Yeoville, Johannesburg, have been waiting for the past three years to get compensation from the RAF after their mother was killed in a road accident in July 2008.
Akhona Zithwane was 14 years old and her brother Bulumko was aged six when their mother died.
The two children have been under the care of their cousin Luleka, who also does not have parents. Luleka says they are fortunate that her aunt owned a flat when she died. They rent out a room to generate income.
"We rent a room out for R1600 a month to earn a living. Out of this we pay rates, buy electricity and groceries," says Luleka.
Luleka says it is tough when they do not have a tenant for some months.
Luleka wrote to Consumer Line because the RAF was not helping to sort out her cousins' claim. She says she lodged a claim on their behalf in 2009 for loss of support.
Luleka says RAF officials told her to be patient as the claim would take a long time to process. But last week, after Sowetan had intervened, the Zithwanes were asked to re-submit their documents.
The Zithwane orphans are not the only people who have been disappointed by the RAF.
- Gervas Dlamini's wife was killed in a taxi accident 10 years ago, leaving him with three minor children.
Dlamini's wife was the sole breadwinner at the time of her death.
He lodged a claim for loss of support and companionship and was helped by an RAF official to complete the documents.
The RAF allegedly lost Dlamini's file but miraculously found it after Sowetan took up the case last October.
The RAF called Dlamini and asked him to provide further details and promised that his case would be finalised within two weeks. He is still waiting.
- Mpho Ntshangase has also been waiting for the RAF to settle her children's claims.
In 2002, Ntshangase's son Thulani, who was 13 years old at the time, was walking home with his three-year-old sister Sponono when a taxi driver allegedly lost control of his vehicle and knocked down the children. Both children were badly injured.
Sponono went through the vehicle's windscreen and landed on the front seat.
Thulani suffered a broken neck, a cracked skull and lost several teeth. His sister also sustained head injuries, a dislocated shoulder and broke both knees.
Ntshangase initially approached a lawyer to lodge a claim on her children's behalf, but she was allegedly informed that it would be quicker if she went to the RAF directly.
This, Ntshangase thought, was good news because it meant she could avoid the hefty legal fees the lawyer charged.
This, in fact, was a big mistake on her part because she could have been easily taken advantage of. Ntshangase claims her son was forced to sign and accept an offer of R120000 despite his mental incapacity.
She also claimed her daughter was offered R200000. She said she rejected the money because the RAF wanted to pay it without any reference to a medical report.
Ntshangase said when she tried to engage the RAF because she was not happy with the service her children were receiving, she was informed that the fund could not locate their file.
Responding to Zithwane's complaint, Johannesburg-based RAF regional manager Mmamogotsi Messiah says the investigation of claims varies from one case to another. Messiah says a claim can be processed quite quickly if all the relevant documents are submitted on time.
Concerning both Dlamini's and Ntshangase's cases, Messiah had promised that the RAF's spokesperson would come back to this reporter with the latest developments in the cases but had not done so at the time of publication.
Lodging a claim with the Road Accident Fund
THE TIME PERIOD TO MAKE A CLAIM.
If you know the identity of the offending driver or the owner, the claim must be lodged within three years.
This does not apply to minors. They can lodge the claim once they reach maturity.
If the identity of the driver or the owner is unknown, as in a "hit and run", the claim must be lodged within two years.
WHO IS ENTITLED TO CLAIM?
- A person who was injured.
- Dependants of the deceased victim.
- Close relatives of the deceased, in respect of funeral expenses.
- Claimants under the age of 18 years must be assisted by a parent or a legal guardian.
WHAT CAN YOU CLAIM FOR
- Loss of earnings or income if you are disabled after the accident.
- Loss of support for a dependant of a deceased victim.
- General damages for pain and suffering and disfigurement in the case of bodily injury.
- Property damage can not be claimed from the fund, but may be claimed from the offending driver.
HOW TO LODGE A CLAIM
- A claim must be made on a claim form available at the Road Accident Fund (RAF) offices.
- A certified copy of your ID and an affidavit.
- A police report, police statement and sketch plan will be required.
- Salary advice slips to prove loss of earnings.
- Documents to prove medical expenses.
- Copies of hospital records, if available.
- A serious injury assessment report, where general damages are claimed.
If the victim is dead, his or her ID will be needed.
- Death or postmortem certificate.
- Proof of marriage if a spouse makes a claim.
- Full unabridged birth certificate reflecting the names of parents.
- Proof of earnings.
- Proof of reasonable funeral expenses.
Claim forms and documents must be hand-delivered or sent by registered mail to the RAF offices in your province. - Sourced from RAF