Road accident claim decision 'racist'

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

The furore around the Cape high court's "racist" decision to temporarily stop the Road Accident Fund (RAF) from paying compensation directly to accident victims has reached fever pitch.

"Most RAF claimants are black and it is very racist to say that those claimants are fraudulent and do not pay their bills, squander money and cannot control their own affairs," RAF spokesman Ayanda Vilakazi told Sowetan.

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) and the SA Association of Personal Injury Lawyers said they wanted compensation to continue being paid to attorneys, who would deduct their fees and pay the balance to the claimants.

Advocate Ronald Bobroff said it would be "practically impossible for attorneys to obtain reimbursement from the vast majority of them".

"Many claimants have not had the benefit of extended education, or are semi-literate, and they have never managed substantial sums of money," he told the court. "It is not uncommon for claimants who have received a large sum of money to squander it or to fall prey to the schemes of opportunists."

The RAF has rejected the attorneys' argument and the SA National Civics Organisation said it planned to protest against the lawyers.

Satawu general secretary Randall Howard questioned whether "ordinary working class South Africans can really depend on judges who appear to be more and more incapable of taking independent decisions".

Yesterday the LSSA hit out at allegations that it was racist.

It said it would not tolerate "derogatory and improper remarks" which "undermine the independence of the judiciary".