Road accident victims - where is the money going?

Road accident victims - where is the money going?

Sadly it should come as no surprise to South Africans that vast amounts of money destined for the country’s most vulnerable people ends up in the bank accounts of fraudsters.

Road accident, Consumerwatch
Getty Images, Consumerwatch

And so it is with the Road Accident Fund - R424-million worth of fraudulent RAF claims were detected by the Fund’s forensic investigations department in the 2015/6 financial year; with 118 people being convicted of fraud on 231 charges.


And in the past six months alone, another R307-million worth of RAF fraud has been detected so the fraudsters are being very busy indeed. And those are the just the ones which have been caught.

The fraud cases have involved RAF employees, doctors, policemen and touts.

Cases in KZN 

And, alas, KZN is a RAF fraud hotspot. 

A case involving R12-million in fake car accident claims on the KZN South Coast is busy grinding through the courts at the moment. 

Meanwhile, there are tens of thousands of genuine accident victims who legitimately deserve money from the Fund, for medical expenses, wheelchairs and the like, compensation for loss of income or loss of a breadwinner, but for various reasons, it’s not making it to their bank accounts.

In KZN alone, more than 12 000 people lodged a RAF claim four, five or more years ago, more than two thirds of them via attorneys, but the cases have gone cold. 

And here’s what the RAF desperately wants them to know - they don’t have to go through their attorney to get their money - they must make direct contact with the RAF’s Durban office in the old Embassy building in the CBD as soon as possible to get their claims finalised and finally get a pay-out.

Listen to Wendy's on-air segment below. 

You don't need an attorney 

Many people assume that they need an attorney to lodge a road accident claim, but it’s not true.  In fact, in many cases, road accident victims would be far better off approaching the RAF directly. The cases are settled quickly and the claimants get the full pay-out, without having to surrender a big chunk of it to the attorney. Despite being paid legal costs by the RAF, attorneys charge claimants what they call a contingency fee - they take a cut of the pay-out, in other words.

And it’s in the attorney’s interests to drag out a case - more fees to be made that way.

In the 2015/6 year, the RAF spent R6.6-billion on legal and other expert costs - about 13% of its overall expenditure and three times what was paid in claimants’ actual medical costs.

At a media briefing in Durban this week Road Accident Fund bigwigs - including COO Lindelwa Jabavu, said they'd prefer that R6,6 billion to go to taking care of car crash victims, rehabilitation and other post-crash care expenses.

The thing is, in the past the Fund admits to not making itself easily accessible to crash victims, which is why the majority sought the services of an attorney. 

On Tuesday, the day I attended that RAF briefing, I got an email from a young woman asking for advice about defective product, and she happened to say that she lost her right leg in a vehicle accident about three years ago. So I asked her if she’d lodged an RAF claim. “Yes, she said, “I have a law firm dealing with it, and as you are aware it's a long process…”

Well no, it doesn’t have to be. All going well, it can be done and dusted, and paid out in four months. 

In the past three or four years, the RAF has made it its mission to become more accessible to crash victims; to make it easier for them to lodge claims themselves. More stand-alone offices around the country and inside hospitals, walk-in centres and a large social media footprint.

The new Road Accident Scheme - which will replace the RAF at some point - will introduce for the first time the principle of no-fault. It won’t matter if the driver was drunk, or the taxi was overloaded, or the person was texting or whatever - the claim will be processed and paid out in full, which will further reduced the need for attorneys. 

But for now, those 12 000 people in KZN with lodged but unresolved road accident claims going back four, five six years, must please contact the RAF directly, right now.. 

Spread the word - If you know someone in this situation, fill them in. Let’s get the money to the people that have a legitimate right to it.

How to contact the RAF:

Call Centre: 0860 23 55 23

In KZN, there are 16 hospital service centres, a walk-in centre in Newcastle, and a regional office on the 12th Floor, Embassy Building, 199 Smith Street. For details on the RAF hospital centres and other regional offices and walk-in centres around the country, go to Find the RAF on Twitter: @RAF_SA and on Facebook: RAF SA Road

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