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SOWETAN | RAF plunder a crying shame

The Road Accident Fund,
The Road Accident Fund,
Image: Karen Moolman

A cursory look at news headlines in SA suggests that there are very few state entities that are not beset in one way or another by corruption or malfeasance. 

From Eskom to Transnet, Prasa to the National Lotteries Commission, all have bled millions of rand meant for the development of this country but syphoned to line pockets of the corrupt. 

Common among all these is the existence of a pervasive mafia-like operation, which collapses these organisations from the inside, systemically weakening controls meant to safeguard good governance. 

For similar reasons, the Road Accident Fund (RAF) was in the spotlight again this week, with the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) telling members of Parliament that it was probing 102 legal firms for carrying out a sophisticated practice of duplicate payments for the same claim. 

These payments, according to the SIU, amounted to R340m. 

You can hazard a guess that those involved in this scam are likely legal practitioners often accused of paying a fraction of what is due to their clients, if they pay at all. 

The double payments scam is one of a number of ways which the fund has been looted over years.

Other corrupt schemes involve the manipulation of procurement systems, the inflation of invoices through alleged collusion with officials.

Even more ridiculous is how the fund lost millions of rand in default judgments because it did not have enough attorneys on its books to defend its interests in court cases. 

The good news is that the SIU has recouped R317m from guilty parties involved in the double payments scam. 

Some lawyers have been referred for criminal prosecution, a move we hope will not reach its dead end at the hands of an increasingly disappointing national prosecutions authority. 

Still, this does not begin to deal with the endemic challenges that have weakened the RAF, making it susceptible to this kind of grand scale looting. 

Following a parliamentary oversight visit in August, MPs were concerned at what they said was a leadership collective that refuses to accept any responsibility or accountability for anything that prevails at the institution. 

Herein lies the problem – the quality of leadership of this organisation and similarly, those whose systems of good governance have been steadily broken under their watch. 

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