SOUTH AFRICAN LAW MAKERS HOPE TO BOOT THE RAF.
(Comments by: Darrell Strydom; Posted on 14 June 2013)
The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has drawn its daggers in response to proposed changes to the law which may see the current RAF [Road Accident Fund] being given the boot in favour of RABS [the so-called “Road Accident Benefit Scheme”]. The LSSA believes, and rightly so it appears, that the proposed changes will prove to be highly prejudicial to the rights and interests of road accident victims in South Africa.
On 8 February 2013 the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, the country’s national legislature, caused the new Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill, 2013 to be published in the Government Gazette (See No.36138, page 3. Notice 98 of 2013). Interested persons were invited to submit written comments on the draft bill by no later than 60 days after publication in the Government Gazette.
The LSSA expressed its utter dismay and disapproval for the proposed new bill in a Fourteen (14) page-long document. The LSSA concluded its submission with the following remarks:
“RABS [Road Accident Benefit Scheme] will create a new class of indigent person, to join the ranks of the 13 million already drawing state pensions. Instead of offering road accident victims an opportunity to rebuild their lives and provide the seed capital to enable them to become economically self supporting and breadwinners for their families (which is what compensation for injuries should provide) RABS condemns them to a life of poverty and dependence on what are already overstretched state facilities. To add insult to injury, road accident victims are also deprived of the right to claim their losses from the person who caused them harm and must, themselves, bear the full burden of their loss.”
The Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill, 2013
RABS’s stated PURPOSE is:
“To provide for a social security scheme for the victims of road accidents; to establish the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Administrator to administer and implement the scheme; to provide a set of defined benefits on a no-fault basis to persons for bodily injury or death caused by or arising from road accidents; and to exclude liability of certain persons otherwise liable for such damages in terms of the common law; and to provide for matters connected therewith.
The PREAMBLE to the Bill reads:
AS the existing fault-based compensation system administered by the Road Accident Fund, established by the Road Accident Fund Act, 1996 (Act No.56 of 1996), is not effectively achieving the purpose for which it was created;
AS there is a need for an effective benefit system, which is reasonable, equitable, affordable and sustainable in the long term, and which optimises limited resources and facilitates timely and appropriate health care and rehabilitation to lessen the impact of injuries and which provides financial support to reduce the income vulnerability of persons affected by injury or death from road accidents;
AS there is a need to expand and facilitate access to benefits by providing them on a no-fault basis;
AS there is a need to simplify claims procedures, reduce disputes and create certainty by providing defined and structured benefits; and
AS there is a need to establish administrative procedures for the expeditious resolution of disputes that may arise and to alleviate the burden on the courts;
THEREFORE, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa enacts as follows…