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Carpenter reports lawyers to LPC after uncovering concealed RAF settlement

RAF payment 'concealed' from client by law firm

Joao Moaiane, 56, of Soweto has laid a complaint with the Legal Practice Council after his lawyers failed to pay him his Road Accident Fund claim.
Joao Moaiane, 56, of Soweto has laid a complaint with the Legal Practice Council after his lawyers failed to pay him his Road Accident Fund claim.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

When Joao Moaiane, 56, learnt that his lawyers had accepted a R500,000 offer from the Road Accident Fund (RAF) and did not tell him, he reported them to the Legal Practitioners Council (LPC). 

Three months later on October 17 this year, he received an email from the LPC that his complaint against Woodroffe & Kleyn Attorneys warranted an investigation.

“We can confirm that your complaint has been considered by an investigating committee and that the committee is satisfied that prima facie evidence that the legal practitioners is guilty of misconduct which warrants misconduct proceedings to be instituted against the legal practitioner. The committee has referred the matter to the council for adjudication by a disciplinary committee in terms of Section 37(3a) of the Legal Practice Act,” read the email.

Moaiane said this was the happiest moment in his life following a six-year old struggle to get compensated for the severe injuries he suffered in a car crash in KZN in 2017.

His injuries left the former carpenter and businessman, physically disabled, broke and without a wife who left him with his three children after he could not support them financially. He suffered a fractured spine, broken ribs, fractured ankle, head injuries and depression. 

From owning a successful carpentry company a few years ago, Moaiane, a Mozambican national, now survives on selling vegetables in Soweto. 

“Receiving that email from the LPC gave me hope that I will finally be able to lead a normal life and possibly mend my broken family and move on,” said Moaiane. 

He had claimed for medical damages and loss of income from RAF and he said in 2018 his lawyers told him that the claims were rejected because he did not have a permit to live in SA and that a passport alone was not good enough. 

He later found out through RAF that R500,000 had been paid to his attorney in September 2022.

“When I confronted them, they initially denied having received the money. Then they changed their story and said they have invested the money on my behalf. I asked them why would they invest the money when I’m living in poverty? That's when I when I went to the LPC.

“I’d encourage claimants to read about their rights because a lot of people are being swindled by lawyers they trust and think have their best interest at heart,” said Moaiane. 

His lawyers are expected to appear before the LPC committee in January next year.

Sowetan was unsuccessful in getting comment from the firm as its landline went unanswered for two days.

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