RAF says: ‘Talk to us, not lawyers’

2016-04-28 06:00
 Road Accident Fund managers visited Siyazakha Primary School in Philippi and handed out goodies. Much to their delight.

Road Accident Fund managers visited Siyazakha Primary School in Philippi and handed out goodies. Much to their delight.

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Close to 1,120 Philippi residents and school children heeded the call of the Road Accident Fund to rather approach it directly for claims than to seek the assistance of lawyers to claim on their behalf.

Residents brave the onset of winter weather and started queuing patiently in the cold at Brown’s Farm Community Hall as early as 6am to lodge their claims.

Some were there to determine the status of their claims, finalise settlement offers, or lodge complaints face-to-face with RAF personnel. Some of the claimants who had suffered major spinal injuries due to car crashes also received wheelchairs.

Meanwhile, unsuspecting claimants who had the misfortune of being duped by unscrupulous lawyers or were denied access to their rightful compensation were given advice and support on how to recoup what was due to them.

Councillor, Mluleki Mbonde said he had experienced the crookedness of lawyers first-hand.

“We recently received several complaints from claimants, crying that they had been robbed by lawyers or bogus operators and we promised to help them.

It is important that we have much more stakeholder engagement with entities such as the RAF in order to ensure our people receive what is due to them,” said Mbonde.

However, Mark Jansen, road safety management director in the Western Cape’s transport department, stressed that the duplicity of legal representatives would not be an issue if road crashes were not so abundant.

“You do not want to be a client of the RAF; it is not a proud moment and makes you vulnerable. It is heartening seeing people queuing for services, but they would not have been here had they not been involved in car accidents,” said Jansen.

He added: “We need to reduce these crashes by 50 percent in keeping with the goals set out in the United Nations Decade for Action for Road Safety. We are not winning the battle yet, but will continue to work with the RAF to reduce the carnage through effective traffic management and proactive road safety awareness.”

The RAF’s vice chairperson David Coovadia thanked dignitaries who had come to witness the day’s proceedings.

Outlining the RAF’s historical journey, he said the organisation was in the dawn of a new era as it approached its 19th year of existence. The Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) will ensure the compensation system becomes more accessible and sustainable, making structured benefits and services much easily and quickly available to claimants.

The impending no-fault scheme will replace the current adversarial system which has become unsustainable and unaffordable, and is meant to bring much needed relief and socio-economic balance to claimants and families torn apart by road crashes.

Car crash victims, their families or dependents who were unable to attend Saturday’s event may still interact with the RAF through its Western Cape regional office or 12 Hospital Service Centres which form part of a wider network of 98 provincial hospitals. Contact details are available on the official website, www.raf.co.za. Alternatively, agents are on hand from Monday to Friday, 07h45 to 16h00, through the RAF’s call centre to address any enquiries. Calls will be returned on the first working day if a message is left after hours.

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