raf payout dilemma

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

A paralysed Lenasia boy who lives in abject poverty is worth an estimated R1,5 million that his lawyers will not pay out.

Sibusiso Lamula was only seven years old when a car shattered his young life, leaving him paralysed from the waist down.

That was in 1997.

But to date he still has to receive the R1,2million compensation he was awarded in 2006 .

Raphael and David Smith Incorporated, the law firm that handled Sibusiso's claim, say they have invested the money on his behalf.

At 10 percent yearly interest, they claim it is now about R1501381

Meanwhile, Sibusiso, 18, lives in abject poverty with his unemployed mother, Phumzile Lamula, and three cousins in an RDP house at Lehae near Lenasia, south of Johannesburg.

The poor family is also facing a bleak Christmas.

In 2006 a formal complaint was launched by the Law Society of SA against Raphael and David Smith Incorporated. The society now awaits a court date to do battle with the law firm.

Lamula, 42, said the money was invested without her consent by the law firm, which had helped her to successfully claim it from the Road Accident Fund.

"The lawyers said it was in Sibusiso's best interest," Lamula said. "His disability grant was stopped in April when he turned 18.

Since then we have not had any money as we depended on it.

"My son no longer has shoes, his clothes are worn and we live from hand to mouth."

In October Sowetan's Mama Angel donated groceries to the family.

Sowetan also ferried the Lamulas to hospital last week to collect medical and other reports that will enable Sibusiso to get a state grant while awaiting the court battle.

In August 2006 the Road Accident Fund paid out the R1,2 million into the trust account of attorney Aarthi Thumberan of Raphael David Smith Incorporated in Johannesburg.

Thumberan confirmed that his firm received Sibusiso's compensation from the Road Accident Fund but said the money was invested on Lamula's wishes.

But Lamula denied ever asking Thumberan to invest the money.

Sibusiso has not been able to go to school again since the accident.

He is wheelchair-bound and had suffered serious head injuries that affected his learning ability.

He was in Grade 2 at the time of the accident.

Lamula was forced to leave her job at a furniture shop in order to take care of her son after the accident.

"I just want some money for us to have something to eat and to buy Sibusiso a new pair of shoes and clothes," Lamula said.

Magdeline Malatji, head of the disciplinary department at the Law Society, said: "Our lawyers are still waiting for the date in the Pretoria high court with Raphael and David Smith Incorporated"

Transvaal Judge President Bernard Ngoepe also promised to monitor Sibusiso's claim.