The legal professionals have expressed concerns that the proposed amendments to the draft Road Accident Fund (RAF) Amendment Bill 2023 would negatively impact the financially disadvantaged and marginalised.
They suggest that the Road Accident Fund prioritise its internal challenges before considering any changes to the legislation.
Moreover, the Fund has argued that the proposed amendments are intended to address current disparities and ensure that accident victims, regardless of their socio-economic status, receive full benefits from the Fund.
The Road Accident Fund is a government-funded scheme that provides compensation to victims involved in a motor vehicle accidents in South Africa.
According to the proposed changes, medical aid members and medical insurance holders will no longer be able to claim for medical expenses incurred.
This is expected to lead to higher medical aid premiums.
The new rules also require foreigners to provide proof of legal residence in the country at the time of the accident before they can make a claim.
Furthermore, pedestrians or drivers under the influence of alcohol will not be eligible for compensation from the Fund.
Legal experts argue that these changes may harm accident victims and suggest that the RAF should instead focus on addressing maladministration and corruption within the system.
The Haslam partners explain, “There are vast exclusions introduced to no apparent reason such as pedestrians crossing a highway will be none suited; non citizens may not claim. There is rampant maladministration from managerial level down.”
RAF acknowledges the shortcomings of its current system, which has resulted in those who have received lower benefits when claiming from the fund.
In response, RAF intends to revise its social benefits scheme, which currently requires claimants to undergo assessments by lawyers and actuaries.
Road Accident Fund Bill | Dr Aslam Dasoo on the proposed amendment
Moreover, RAF emphasizes that those who are opposing these changes are doing so to benefit themselves.
CEO of RAF, Collins Letsoalo says, “You are going to see a very strange phenomenon coming from lawyers calling themselves civil society they are going to form organisations that are going to try and fight this last time there was a road accident benefit scheme we saw new a organisations of lawyers being formed.”
RAF has announced that medical aid providers are not authorised to require reimbursement from their members, who have made claims from the Road Accident Fund.
According to RAF, there is no legal provision that allows for such reimbursement. -Reporting by Matimu Khosa