PP to probe huge new RAF costs

2014-05-28 00:00

THE Public Protector (PP) is very concerned about statements from the legal fraternity that it will cost the South Africa taxpayer between R303 million and R1,65 billion to copy and have read files for the Road Accident Fund (RAF).

Spokesperson for the PP’s office, Kgalalelo Masibi, said advocate Thuli Madonsela had appointed a team to investigate documents the legal firm Joubert Galpin & Searle from Port Elizabeth had submitted to her.

Meanwhile, Madonsela will also check with RAF CEO Dr Eugene Watson the lawyers’ allegations that the RAF’s decision to copy a decade’s worth of legal files for new RAF panel applicants was a “senseless waste of taxpayers’ money”.

Masibi said Madonsela wants to know from Watson how much the process of duplicating the file system would cost the State.

In 2012, the RAF, on recommendation from the auditor-general, issued a tender to appoint a new panel of attorneys to replace its panel of the preceding decade.

The high court in the Eastern Cape has meanwhile set aside the appointment of the new panel of attorneys, but the verdict was suspended on December 1 to give the RAF a chance to issue new tenders to appoint a third panel of attorneys.

This means all the RAF’s files after December 1 may have to be copied again for the new set of attorneys who applied for the RAF’s tender, despite none of them being assured of getting on the panel.

The previous legal firms on the RAF panel each hold between 1 000 and 4 000 files.

Each file contains between 750 and 1 000 pages, which must now be copied at a cost of R1,50 per page and then handed to the new panel, who will reportedly charge R47 to read each page in terms of an agreement with the RAF.

This process may have to be repeated after December 1.

Watson did not deny any of the amounts to sister paper Beeld, but said the RAF does not intend to waste money.

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