NEWS & ANALYSIS

Leaked RAF memo shows attempt to shift blame to staff – Chris Hunsinger

DA to hand over document to the Hawks in aid of current investigation

Leaked RAF memo signifies management’s attempt to shift blame to staff

2 February 2016

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is in possession of leaked  internal Road Accident Fund (RAF) memorandum which signals the intention by its management to shift the blame for gross negligence and largescale meltdown at the RAF onto employees which has the potential to see RAF management evade any and all accountability in the poor state of affairs at the government agency. 

The document confirms suspicions that RAF management is shifting the blame for the delays onto employees and lower management, in order to cover up for rank maladministration and malpractice at the very top, when in fact the staff is overburdened with caseload and lack proper support. The document suggests corrective action “in line with RAF Disciplinary Policy”, including the fast-tracked dismissal of staff, instead of improving administrative discipline and support. 

The DA will write to RAF CEO, Dr Eugene Watson, to publicly deny that this is the case and make clear the intentions of the memorandum.

Failing such an explanation, the Minister should make public her explanation as to why she has ignored our requests to institute an inquiry into the management of the RAF, as well as disclose the reasons for not ordering an inquiry into the management of the RAF whose mandate is to ensure compensation and justice for thousands of road accident victims-often poor- who have no access to justice.  

The leaked internal document also suggests that over a two year period, 9 000 direct claims from victims of road accidents dealt with by the RAF were allowed to prescribe meaning, that the claims by victims were not dealt with in the time allocated by the RAF Act. 

When over 500 people were employed in one financial year, the DA warned that if the RAF did not provide the proper support to these employees, the RAF would run into trouble. Unfortunately this document confirms the DA’s fears and affirms the consequences of poor management for both the employees of the RAF, as well as for the victims of accidents who are forced to wait longer than necessary for their much needed pay-outs. This is simply unacceptable. 

Last year the DA laid criminal charges against Dr Watson and the RAF Board after coming into possession of evidence which documented large-scale fraud allegedly taking place at the RAF.

Several concerning developments have occurred at the RAF which compromise its ability to fulfil government’s commitment to compensate victims of road accidents. One of these developments was the sudden closure of the RAF’s specialised Fraud Investigating Task Team (FITT), which focussed on investigating alleged false RAF claims. The disbandment of the FITT now means that the RAF has no capacity or ability to protect itself from fraudulent claims, costing taxpayer’s millions. 

The DA will be handing this latest evidence to the Hawks to use in their current investigation after charges of fraud were laid against the RAF by the DA a year ago. The DA rejects the intention by Dr. Watson and the RAF Board to target staff in order to abscond from responsibility.  

The DA invites staff members as well as members of the public to contact us via a helpline 087 233 988 or [email protected] regarding any matters pertaining to the above or any other matters in relation to the RAF with which they may have concerns. 

Thousands of South African road accident victims are forced to suffer the financial consequences of bad management and non-payment of compensation by the RAF, and it is time for Minister Peters’ responsibility sabbatical to end.   

Issued by Chris Hunsinger, DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Transport, 2 February 2016