South African Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga has flagged a serious problem with the Road Accident Fund (RAF) in a recent parliamentary address, stating that current legislation disproportionately favours law firms over the claimants they are supposed to represent. In a startling example, Chikunga revealed that a claimant received a mere R57,000 from a R5.6 million payout that was processed through their lawyer, indicating a severe misuse of power by the legal firm involved.
The RAF's Legal Struggles
In addition to this, the RAF, a social welfare entity, is engaged in a legal dispute with the Office of the Auditor-General over a change in accounting policy, which has led to a disagreement. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) has voiced concerns about the continuous legal issues that the RAF is facing. RAF Board Chairperson, Zanele Francois, defended the policy change, arguing that the current accounting standards do not provide a fair representation of the RAF's financial status.
SCOPA Chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa cautioned against setting a dangerous precedent of negotiated audit outcomes, suggesting that Parliament might need to join the legal proceedings. SCOPA criticised the RAF for prolonging the issue and has plans to hold them accountable in the upcoming year. The RAF's ongoing legal struggles and the exploitation of claimants by law firms undoubtedly present a significant cause for concern, and it's clear that more stringent measures need to be put in place to prevent such abuses in the future.