Pay victims their dues

Accident victims who successfully claim for damages from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) ordinarily expect immediate relief to alleviate their suffering.

Their intention is to use the money to acquire proper facilities so they can lead a semblance of normal life after suffering injuries that have changed their lives.

But for one accident victim, an 18-year-old mentally retarded youth, there appears to be no immediate relief despite having been awarded R1,2million in damages by the RAF two years ago.

Sibusiso Lamula was seven years old when he was hit by a car on his way home from school in 1997 and left paralysed.

The youth lives in abject poverty with his mother Phumzile in a township south of Johannesburg and has had no access to the money in spite of his dire circumstances.

His lawyers say they received instructions from his mother to invest the money. But she insists she signed an affidavit agreeing to this arrangement out of ignorance.

Keeping the money in a long-term investment while the family struggles to make ends meet is unjustifiable.

For the youth's sake, we urge the lawyers to withdraw the money - and the interest accrued - and allow Lamula's mother to have the money immediately. She can then place it in a trust account with financial advisers of her choice.

The new investment plan must be tailored to help her son live a better life.