Victim’s rights group: ‘Declare Road Accident Fund an essential service’

By: Dan Meyer – The South African.

The Association for the Protection of Road Accident Victims (APRAV) have sent a letter to government urging them to allow the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to operate during the lockdown as an essential service.

The letter, delivered to Minister of Cooperate Governance & Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, requests that the RAF, responsible for the compensation of thousands of road accident victims, be declared an essential service in light of its efforts to ensure the human dignity and financial wellbeing of clients.

Seeking essential services permit

Peter de Bruyn, chairperson of APRAV, has said that his organisation completely respects the endeavours of government to stem the spread of the global pandemic we are currently facing, but has asked for a certain amount of relief in order to fulfil the needs of his clients who are in desperate need.

“We are not requesting full opening [ of courts], just that payments in the system proceed,” he told The South African on Friday 17 April

“Matters that have been approved, as well as matters sitting with attorneys, should be able to be processed so that the clients can be compensated fairly.”

In his letter, he said that claimants, who are already deprived of income due to injuries incurred in their accidents, are now more vulnerable than ever.

“Our request is in the context that of thousands of RAF claimants deprived of any income (a significant portion of claimants is part of the Gig Economy) or are disabled to do any work and are waiting for their compensation from the RAF.”

“We fully acknowledge that safeguarding the health of all South Africans is now the primary objective and that ‘flattening the curve’ will only be achieved via ‘the lockdown’.”

Backlog still needs clearing

De Bruyn said hat there are currently over 10 000 cases that need to be urgently addressed, and said that they are being severely disadvantaged by the RAF not holding an essential service status.

The RAF has long been burdened by an enormous backlog of cases, with some dating back over a decade.

“A partial functioning by the RAF to execute some essential services (such as the processing of payments) will enable critically needed income to which tens of thousands of South African households are rightfully entitled.”

“All protocols for social distancing can still be observed, since this is by and large, an administrative process.”

His letter requests several privileges during the lockdown and are as follows:

  • Progress all existing required payments.
  • Progress all claims already finalised/agreed to.
  • Progress current matters capable of being settled via the block settlement programme.

“We firmly believe that the intentions of the lockdown as well as progressing very needed claim payments to thousands of members of the public, can meaningfully be balanced,” he said.