RAF Lawyer slaps client with R774K bill

Claimant dumps ‘slow agent’, claims money himself

Collen Mtshali was slapped with a R774,000 debt by his lawyer after he decided to claim directly from the Road Accident Fund.
Collen Mtshali was slapped with a R774,000 debt by his lawyer after he decided to claim directly from the Road Accident Fund.
Image: Supplied

A lawyer is demanding R774,000 for services rendered before his estranged client dumped him to claim directly from the Road Accident Fund.

Collen Mtshali was awarded R690,000 by the fund.

Lawyer Mthetheleli Mali said the money he is demanding is for services rendered and he was justified to make the claim even though it is R84,000 more than what his client received from the RAF.

Mali has served Mtshali with a Notice of Taxation and the tax master is expected to assist the Johannesburg high court in August to determine if the R774,000 claim he slapped Mtshali with is justified or not.

The two had a fallout when Mtshali terminated Mali's services and opted to claim directly from the RAF in 2017 as he was getting impatient as three years had passed since Mali first lodged the claim on his behalf. 

Mtshali, a father of two, hasn't been employed since he was hit by car while buying airtime from a hawker on the pavement in the Joburg CBD in 2012.

At the time, he had been working for the expanded public works programme but was unable to return to work because of his injuries to the limbs and head.

His sight was also affected. 

According to Mali's bill of costs, he charged Mtshali a total of R139,725 for 27 calls and consultations he had with him at a cost of R5,175 for every hour he spent with him.

He charged an additional R18,108 for 15-minute calls which cost R1,293 each. Some of the calls were to remind Mtshali about pending doctors' appointments.

Mali billed Mtshali R53 to "peruse" the copy of his ID when they initially met. 

Mali also charged his client R288,900 for trips to doctors' appointments. He billed Mtshali R20,700 for every four hours he "spent travelling" with him to see doctors. 

However, Mtshali disputes this. "Only his driver would come to my house to pick me up. He [Mali] was never there," said Mtshali. 

The doctors' invoices amounted to R117,802, excluding Mali's travelling fees. 

The RAF encourages people to claim directly, but those who opt to use lawyers can do so and their legal representatives can claim not more than 25% of the final settlement amount. 

"Mali told me he'd charge me 25% of the settlement and I was surprised when he served me with a R774,000 bill in January, which is way more than what I got. He came to my mom's house in December 2023 and threatened my family that he will take the house if I don't pay him," said Mtshali. 

Mali denied making the threats.

"I'm not interested in that house. I just want money for my services. I paid for his medical examinations and it was my hard work that he used to get a settlement with the RAF," said Mali.

He said according to expert opinion, Mtshali was meant to receive close to R2m and that he did not want to under-claim, which his client can sue him for in future.

Mali said the bill of costs amount sent to Mtshali was not final.

"That is just a draft. The tax master will decide how much is due to me. Mr Mtshali also forgets that RAF would have included the medical exams costs in the settlement amount had he continued with me. But he loses all those privileges now and all those medical bills will be drawn against him because he claimed directly," said Mali.

Mtshali said he decided to claim directly because he was under pressure to support his family and that the matter was dragging on for too long. 

Mtshali has since lodged a misconduct complaint against Mali with the Legal Practice Council (LPC).

Spokesperson Kabelo Letebele said  the complaint would go through the investigation process which forms part of LPC's procedures when dealing with complaints from members of the public.

"The LPC further confirms that there are other complaints that have been lodged against this firm, which are being looked into by the council," said Letebele.

He said they encourage the public to lodge complaints with his office where they feel that the legal firm or practitioners are contravening the rules, regulations or code of conduct of the Legal Practice Act or in the event that a legal practitioner is acting in a manner that does not safeguard the public.

Mali said he was aware of the complaint lodged by Mtshali and that he had responded to the LPC.

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