Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill: hearings

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27 October 2003
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

27 October 2003

Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Submission by National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities (NCPA)

Submission by National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities (NCPA) (2)
Submission by Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA)
Submission by South African Commuter Organisation (SACO)
Submission by Department of Transport
Submission by Dr S Kariem
Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill [B64-2003]
Submission by Headway (Ms S Carter)
Submission by Sue Anderson
Submission by Alexander Forbes Accident Compensation Technologies (Adv J Hattingh)
Submission by Disabled People South Africa (Mr M Toni)
Submission by Hospital Association of South Africa (Adv K Worrall-Clarke)

The Committee heard submissions regarding Bill amendments and the Department of Transport’s revisions as drafted by the State Law Advisers. The Committee made no decision on whether to accept the amendments, as they would continue deliberations. The SA Commuter Organisation (SACO) welcomed the Bill and especially the instalment compensation system. In contrast, the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities (NCPPD) was dismayed at the lack of consultation within their sector, and highlighted certain concerns. FEDUSA also raised various issues, claiming that fast-tracking the Bill would have devastating effects on victims of road accidents and the country’s economy. Dr S Kariem brought perspectives from the hospital fraternity, in his capacity as Senior Superintendent of Groote Schuur Hospital.

During the afternoon session, the Committee listened to submissions by Headway, Sue Anderson, Alexander Forbes Accident Compensation Technologies, Disabled People South Africa (DPSA), and the Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA). The discussion concentrated on topics of lump sum payments versus installments, prescribed medical tariffs and the compulsory mediation and arbitration process.


Department of Transport
Adv. M Mphahlele (Manager of Legal Services) described the proposed amendments:

- In Clause 1, the State Law Advisers had explored provision for the payment of medical services incurred immediately after an accident, even if liability had not been established. They had also investigated the tax implications of payments of instalments.
- In Clause 2 (medical tariffs), in 17(A)(i) they had included the words, “after consultation”, to ensure that a consultation process would take place before any medical tariffs were prescribed. They had also checked the constitutionality of deducting collateral benefits, such as from the amount payable by the Fund.
- In Clause 3, they had clarified the meaning of “non-resident” to have clarifty for all people and circumstances.

-          In Clause 4, they provided an opinion on the constitutionality of excluding claims based on “emotional shock”.
- In Clause 5, they provided an opinion on the constitutionality of making mediation and arbitration compulsory. They considered only compulsory mediation and optional arbitration for the claimant unwilling to go to court.
- In Clause 6, they provided an opinion on the constitutionality of making post-provisions applicable to claims that have not been finalised (the retrospective clause).

After deliberations surrounding these requests, and as a consequence of the redrafting of Clause 1, the long title of the Bill had been redrafted, in respect to medical expenses (see Appendix). Clause 1, Section 17(4)(a) had now been amended, to provide for a “no fault” system in respect of medical expenses, whereby a person involved in an accident, whether or not at fault, would receive free medical attention. It was felt that the issue of medical treatment should be linked to medical tariffs, as once medical tariffs had been prescribed, it would be easier to access those expenses. The section had been accordingly amended to provide for direct payment of the fund to the service providers.

In Clause 2, Section 17(A)(i) now read, “The Minister shall, after consultation with the person referred to in Section 17(4)(a)”. When the clause on collateral benefits had been drafted, the Department had not had opinion from the State Law Advisers but had obtained legal opinions from other councils. The pension provision was removed, although they were still open to the Committee’s opinion on the matter.

The Department had clarified the issue of permanent residence and non-residence in Clause 3. They understood “ordinary resident” to be someone who resided in South Africa as a normal citizen. The amendments made provision for non-citizens.

Clause 4, as it pertained to emotional shock, remained the same. As long as this section was not affected by Section 21 of the Act, which limited the liability of the driver of the vehicle where the fund has compensated the third party, there was no way in which the provision could become unconstitutional.

Clause 5 provided for a process of compulsory mediation. In the event that mediation failed, the party could either pursue legal proceedings or arbitration. Discussion was still being pursued on the formulation, as there was a strong motivation to restore the limit of 120 days that had been deleted from the amendments. Subsection 26 of Section 24 was therefore being replaced as follows: “(6) No claim shall be enforceable by arbitration or by legal proceedings (commenced by a summons served) on the Fund or agent”. He suggested that “serve summons” be deleted from Section 24(6)(b), and be replaced with, “institute legal or arbitration proceedings”. He was sure that the amendments would be formulated to make provision for compulsory mediation.

Under “Transitional arrangements”, Section 17(4)(a) had been removed from Clause 2, since “no fault” medical expenses were being linked to medical tariffs. The Department had inserted subsection (3) to say that, “The President shall determine by proclamation the date upon which section 17(4)(a) and 17A shall come into operation”.

Mr Farrow (DA) asked how the “no fault” provision linked to medical tariffs, would impact on the original objectives of reducing the burden on the Fund’s cashflow.

The Chairperson stated that the reference to “future” included a claim for the costs of future accommodation, in regard to treatment. The original draft had seemed to envisage undertakings in regard to future issues, and did not refer to immediate “golden hour” treatment. He asked for clarity on the issue.

Adv. Mphahlele conceded that the Department had committed an oversight, as the issue raised by he Chairperson should have been addressed in the amendments. The word “future” should have been removed.

Mr D Anderson (RAF) said that medical costs should be related to medical tariffs,that would guide costs from the time of the accident to the total rehabilitation of the claimant. The RAF was not subjected to severe cost liabilities where they had not been in contact with the claimant for two or more years. In their experience, the significant medical costs come immediately after the accident, and the RAF only became aware of the extent of the medical condition of the claimant when the claim went through. They regard it as an intervention to manage the medical costs of the claimant. The extent of any increase was not envisaged as significant.

The Chairperson understood essentially that, although the costs might increase, they would not “skyrocket”. It would enable a more equitable, socially-oriented intervention. The question was how this could slot into an Act to amend a system that was still premised on fault.

Mr Mphahlele explained that instalment payouts would not necessarily be exempted from taxation. The size of the payment, and how it was paid, would have to be prescribed. A lump-sum payment would initially be made and how the balance was paid, would be dealt with in the regulations subject to consultation.

Mr S Swart (ACDP) said “pay in prescribed amount” allowed the whole process to be moved to subordinate legislation. It was unacceptable to allow the regulations to determine whether there would be instalments.

The Chairperson concurred and said victims of life-changing accidents needed to receive a significant lump sum. The promise of some monthly instalment would not really assist them to overcome problems where, for example, home architecture had to be altered to allow for a wheelchair. The provisions proposed by the Department were too vague.

Mr Farrow asked, with regard to the provision in subsection (e) that “the prescribed amount referred to in subsection (c) shall be exempted from taxation”, if it was acceptable for the amendment to dictate such an exemption.

The Chairperson stated that this matter was still subject to negotiations with National Treasury. It had been included to test how the wording would appear.

Mr Swart cautioned that the word “person” in section 17(A)(i) was inappropriate, since it did not correlate with section 17(4)(a).

The Chairperson confirmed that the Department was “holding its ground” on collateral benefits. They had removed the reference to a pension, and introduced an obligation to disclose. It was understood that these would all be subject to the opinion of the State Law Adviser.

Mr Ainslie (ANC) felt that section 17(B)(i) was rather untidy and needed clarification.

With regard to Section 18(5)(a) on limitations set by the Minister in the Gazette, Mr Farrow asked if there were any conditions and/or guidelines with regard to the capping of funds to non-resident claimants.

The Chairperson imagined that funds payable to non-resident claimants should not be out of step with what would be payable to resident South Africans. It seemed outrageous that people who did not normally contribute to fuel levies, should receive huge pay-outs. Legislation should provide some guidance to the regulations in this regard.

On Clause 5, Adv Mphahlele explained that because the mediation process could go a long way to averting possible legal action, mediation should be made compulsory. Because the Department was working under pressure, they realised there was a need to reinstate the 120-day period, to give the RAF time to decide whether to make an offer or repudiate a claim.

The retrospectivity issue under Clause 6(2) remained as it was, but by having the proclamation date of sections 17(4)(a) and 17A be determined by the President, to allow for some flexibility in terms of retrospectivity (3).

Mr Mphahlele informed the Committee that in Clause 6(2), “Sections 17(4)(b)” had to change to “Sections 17(4)(c)”, and “(c)” had to change to “(d)”, so that it related to future loss of income and patrimonial loss. The newly-inserted subsection (3) related to the no fault system linked to medical tariffs.

The Chairperson thanked the Department. The other presenters had prepared their submissions based on the original version of the draft amendment but were welcome to proceed as the Committee had not yet decided to accept the original draft, or the one that had just been presented. They were also welcome to comment on any aspect of the Amendment Bill or other versions of it.

South African Commuter Organisation (SACO) submission
Mr S Sangweni (SACO President) said they welcomed the Bill that would save the RAF from bankruptcy and ensure that victims received compensation. They supported the Bill’s undertaking to pay the medical expenses of claimants after treatment by doctors and suppliers. They also welcomed instalment payments that would ensure victims had a regular income.

Mr Swart asked if SACO had any paraplegic members, and how many other members. The Quadruplegics Association were completely opposed to the Bill. He asked if members of this organisation had complained about the RAF’s administrative inability to deal with undertakings. Such inability would obviously be aggravated if there were payments by instalments over a long time.

Mr Sangweni was not able to provide the exact membership. SACO lobbied on behalf of any person making use of public transport. They did not have any contact with the Quadruplegics Association.

Mr Ainslie asked how SACO members had experienced the allocation of lump sum payments.

Mr Sangweni reported that there were many people, especially in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, and Gauteng, who had complained to SACA that they had not received any monies. He believed that the instalment system would greatly assist them. They had discovered cases where professionals were robbing claimants of their lump sums so they could not attend provincial hospitals. The instalment system would diminish the occurrence of corruption.

National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities (NCPPD) submission
Mr M Nkhwashu (National Development Facilitator) and Ms D Howitson (Vice-President) made separate submissions on behalf of the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities.

Mr Nkhwashu remarked that there had been a lack of consultation with relevant stakeholders around the proposed amendments, particularly within the disabled persons’ sector. The RAF seemed to err in attempting to play too many roles in the claims process, thereby not doing justice to the claimant. He suggested that the Fund acquire a regulator to ensure monitoring and evaluation. Furthermore, he urged the Committee to do research by interviewing some of the claimants on their experiences and pay random visits to the RAF offices to observe operations. Unprofessionalism by RAF staff and officials caused havoc in the administration of claims. Lastly, he felt that “Prevention is better than cure” so he suggested that the “Arrive Alive” campaign run during busy festive seasons, should be ongoing throughout the year.

Ms Howitson informed the Committee that the NCPPD viewed the Bill as “an affront to all persons with disabilities, whether injured in a motor vehicle accident or disabled in a different way”. The manner in which the disability sector had been ignored, resulted in “unmitigated discrimination”, and questioned “the seriousness of the RAF in easing the life of its petitioners”. On perusal of the Bill, it had become apparent that there were no persons with disabilities within the RAF. It seemed the actual motivation for the proposed amendments was to save the RAF money. Her criticisms are in the attachment.

Mr Ainslie wondered if the Council had any experience with claimants who had received lump sum payments and then squandered this on unrelated expenses. Regular, monthly payments might help to obviate that occurrence, and supply people with a regular monthly income.

Ms Howitson said it would be foolish to say they had never come across this type of occurrence. However, the organisation was often called upon to assist claimants on how to manage funds through investment, setting up a business, adapting a home, and acquiring his/ her own, accessible transport. Many people with serious injuries also needed to employ caregivers. The changes that were necessitated after accidents were often so huge that instalment payments would not work. For instance, the minimum cost for a battery-operated wheelchair was currently R23 000. Any adjustments that would have to be made to the wheelchair, such as to move it with the claimant’s chin, through computerised eyesight, or through language, could raise costs.

Mr Farrow asked how the organisation linked with victims of road accidents. He also asked if the organisation provided the victims with guidance on how to lodge claims and how to deal with all the resultant changes in lifestyle.

Ms Howitson responded that as soon as the organisation became aware of accident victims, they assisted them in compiling a “proper paper trail” to make claims, and helped in adapting homes. In cases where victims were able to return to work, they guided employers on any necessary changes to the working environment, and how to put into practice the Employment Equity Act, with particular reference to the Code of Good Practice on Persons with Disabilities.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee was quite partial to the allocation of a lump sum. However, they also saw some credibility in the instalment payment system. The Committee might therefore consider preserving the lump sum allocation, while also exploring the implementation of the instalment plan.

Mr P Sibande (ANC) asked if the NCPPD had any structures in rural areas. The Satchwell Report had revealed that much money was still being held by attorneys, and asked their opinion on this.

Ms Howitson responded that where the organisation did not have offices in rural areas, they had either a Committee or a branch there. Their staff members travel throughout the country to be of assistance. Where they were not informed by the communities about injured people, it was difficult for them to find them. Furthermore, many people from both rural and urban areas, some of whom were illiterate, were not aware of the procedures necessary to lay claims with the RAF. The RAF had a responsibility to make known what injured persons could claim for. She continued that Bills passed through Parliament were often beyond the comprehension of the ordinary lay person. Organisations for disabled people did make themselves known. Often faith-based practices in rural and urban areas contacted these organisations.

She was unable to comment on behalf of attorneys but, where the organisation had been brought directly into situations, they had not experienced any problems with attorneys handing over monies to claimants. They did however experience problems with claims that lay with the RAF, and attorneys did their utmost to secure funds without success.

She cited a case in Kimberley where a young man was injured in a motor accident two years ago. No monies had as yet been paid to him, in spite of how hard the attorneys had been working. In June of this year, the young man’s mother was also injured in a road accident, breaking her neck. The situation in that home was “beyond anybody’s comprehension”, and in spite of the fact the NCPPD was doing its utmost, no co-operation was forthcoming from the RAF. The mother needed a wheelchair now and to have her house adapted, and a caregiver. If financial aid was not delivered to that home immediately, the family would face marital breakdown.

Mr G Schneeman (ANC) imagined that there were many people, not only in rural areas, who had no access to the services of the NCPPD or similar organisations. He asked if they would consider it more appropriate to consider the allocation of lump sums in certain cases, and instalments in others.

In response, Mr Howitson asked who would decide on which system to use in each particular case. If the decision were left to the RAF, they would go for the instalment system to “keep money flowing”.

The Chairperson assured the presenters that their concerns with the process, and the need for inclusivity in amending the Bill, weighed heavilly with the Committee.

Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) submission
Ms G Humphries (Parliamentary Officer) stated that FEDUSA had been unable, in the short time allowed, to formulate a comprehensive written submission. Some of the concerns raised were:
(1) the fast-tracking of the legislative process, noted especially in the light of the coming elections. The submission contended that stakeholders within the industry had not been adequately consulted;
(2) the administrative spending of the RAF on staff and related issues. There were reports of excessive spending on furniture and household items in some offices, and on luxury vehicles for RAF branches which never travelled into rural areas to assess victims;
(3) various issues dealing relating to Section 17(4)(b), for example that instalment payments would result in a claimant receiving only between 20% and 40% of his/ her previous income; and
(4) various issues relating to Sections 17a and 17b in Act 56 of 1996.
For the rest of FEDUSA’s comments, please see attachment.

Ms T Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC) asked if FEDUSA had structures in the various areas to monitor accident victims. If it was decided to implement the instalment system, she asked if FEDUSA could be relied upon to support the process through its structures in communities.

Ms Humphries responded that when there was an undertaking, the claimant had to be re-assessed by the RAF. This could be problematic because undertakings did not necessarily work in practice. People being re-assessed often had to engage with RAF officials to get approval for a purchase, such as a wheelchair. RAF staff were often unfriendly, obstructive, and unhelpful. Many of the people living in rural areas went without treatment. The trade unions, through different stakeholders, NGOs and staff working in the hospitals, did try to assess the situation and to help as far as possible, but this created problems.

Mr Sibanda asked if FEDUSA had consulted with other stakeholders with regard to the Bill, in the light of their complaint that they had not been consulted.

Ms Humphries responded that she would not have been able to present a submission to the Committee if she had not first consulted. On 22 October, a meeting had been held at which the Bill was discussed with representatives from its 21 trade unions. However, the current version of the Bill had only been published on 3 October 2003. Having received that version, FEDUSA had consulted with their various sectors, specifically the health and public sectors.

The Chairperson drew attention to FEDUSA’s statement at the bottom of page 3, that “a victim is entitled to treatment of choice”. He cautioned that “in the real world, with massive inequalities”, the ability to choose became very limited. The ability to choose was also affected by the current “no fault” provision in the Bill. The health system was heavily challenged by many problems.

Dr S Kariem’s submission
Dr S Kariem (Senior Medical Superintendent at Groote Schuur Hospital) said that South Africa had one of the worst records for traffic-related accidents and deaths, at 11.7 per 100 million kilometres of road travelled. Some 60% of healthcare expenditure was spent on the 20% of patients in the private sector. The remaining 40% was spent on the 80% of patients in public hospitals.

He reported on the progress of a joint project of Groote Schuur Hospital and the RAF. With the assistance of Deloitte and Touche, the project accessed and submitted claims to the RAF. The project was working quite well as patients qualifying for compensation were identified. The system was regarded as a critical revenue-generating opportunity for the hospital. The funds raised were effectively being used to help sustain ongoing services to indigent patients, including victims of road traffic accidents.

Some of the challenges he identified, and which needed to be taken into account in the amendments, were:
- Lump sum payments often were not the answer to patient’s health needs, as this often led to later non-payment. Claimants could be better served by payments in instalments, to ensure that health needs could be timeously taken care of.
- Claims submitted by hospitals had to be processed and timeously paid by the RAF.
- On the limiting of claims to non-residents, these people were often admitted to hospitals for emergency services and it was impractical to determine their residency status at the time.
- Rehabilitation programmes funded by the RAF needed further support.
- It was hard to determine cause and effect with regard to emotional shock, and this provision was open to abuse. It might be better to remove the provision, but to leave the option open by including a default clause. There should there be a psychiatric report linking cause and effect so there could be compensation.

Finally, Dr Kariem stated that although the quantity of care provided at public hospitals could be debated, he did not believe there was any discrimination against disabled people in the public health system.

Mr Swart requested clarity on the involvement of Deloitte & Touche in collecting outstanding claims from the RAF.

Dr Kariem responded that Groote Schuur Hospital was one of the few SA hospitals in the Deloitte & Touche project. The hospital identified patients involved in road accidents and then Deloitte & Touche ensured that papers were processed and claims accurately submitted to the RAF. The project was expected to result in huge amounts of revenue. In terms of public awareness, the clerical staff attempted to make patients aware of their rights. Although Groote Schuur had the capacity to do that, staff members at rural facilities might not be well enough informed of the rights of victims to educate patients.

On the need for a combined system of lump sum payments and instalments, Mr Schneeman asked if Dr Kariem had any idea how the system could work.

Dr Kariem said that there were methods to calculate an immediate lumpsum payment, after having considered the emergency care and needs of the victim. There were also ways in which future health care needs could be discounted, taking various factors into account. These methods had worked very well over the last number of months. Should the Committee decide to combine the two payment methods, they might consider employing their methods.

Headway submission
After the lunchbreak, Ms S Carter commented that the poor did not have the money to pay for rehabilitation up front. Consequently, undertakings to the poor were not used and individuals went without rehabilitation. The process of undertakings was time consuming and required extreme patience and perseverance. Current staff at the Undertakings Department in Pretoria could not cope with the process of reimbursing claimants or therapists. The instalment process would make purchases of special equipment impossible, so it should be replaced with lumpsum payments. Neither Headway-Natal, nor the Stroke and Brain Injury Association, were consulted regarding the Bill. The adoption of the legislative proposals might improve the cashflow situation of the Fund, but it would be catastrophic for the families of brain-injured victims.

Mr A Ainslie (ANC) asked Ms Carter to explain and expand on how the Bill took away the choice and dignity of the victims.

Ms S Carter (Headway) said that the major problem was that rehabilitation at provincial hospitals did not really exist. The victims deserved a choice on where to be treated.

Mr P Sibande (ANC) said the issue of lump sum payments and instalments needed to be discussed in terms of short-term and long-term realities.

Ms Carter said she was opposed to instalments because, in her experience, lump sum payments worked extremely well. Victims needed to receive lump sum payments up front in order to cover large initial expenses.

The Chairperson said that the Committee should accept the need for lump sum interventions. However, there was often also a great need for a life-long therapy that would work well with instalments. Hence he proposed that the Committee try to legislate a system that would make use of both methods.

Ms Carter said that it could be implemented if the Undertakings Department worked effectively and efficiently, but unfortunately it had not done so it the past. Consequently she would be very nervous to take that route.

Sue Anderson’s submission
Ms Anderson, an Amanzimtoti paediatric nursing sister representing various quadriplegic and amputee patients, said that there were many problems with undertakings. They were often not accepted by pharmacies so people had to pay cash and then be reimbursed. Those pharmacies and GPs that accept undertakings often complained of late payments. Monthly payments disadvantaged disabled people. In general, the RAF did not administer undertakings well and made life very difficult and confusing for victims.

Mr Sibande commented on whether the RAF would still pay accounts when a disabled person wanted to emigrate, saying that the Fund was dedicated precisely for South Africans.

Alexander Forbes Accident Compensation Technologies submission
Adv J Hattingh concentrated on two issues: the prescribed medical tariff, and the compulsory mediation and arbitration processes. The proposed tariff should provide for certain contingencies, such as the real risk of repudiation, apportionment, statutory limitations and extended payment cycles. On the issue of mediation and arbitration, the process should be made available as an alternative dispute resolution process. A number of ways of resolving current problems were presented. The ultimate solution could be moving from a “fault” to “no-fault” system. Reasonable payment cycles should be created and the risk component should be accommodated in the tariff. Medical expenses should be excluded from the statutory limitations. The undertakings should be managed, subject to appointment, and payments should be make directly to the supplier of the service.

Mr Ainslie said that AFACT used both private and public healthcare institutions. He asked how determination was made on whether a victim went to a private or public institution. In his view, it was partly based on a merit assessment opinion. He asked for a general estimate of the number of road accident victims directed to public health care institutions.

Adv J Hattingh said that the strategy of private facilities providing care to uninsured road accident victims had developed over the years into also supporting the public sector. The AFACT did not determine whether a patient should go to a private or public hospital. It did however, make assessments based on the information received from the scene of the accident, whether or not the victim would be eligible to claim compensation from the RAF. There was no incentive for the AFACT to direct patients one way or the other. The AFACT mostly dealt with private healthcare providers but also with the Western Cape provincial administration. The AFACT accepted called from both public and private institutions and provide them with the merit assessments required.

Mr S Farrow (DA) asked who paid the AFACT.

Adv Hattingh said that the contracted service provider paid and the RAF did not pay at all.

Disabled People South Africa submission
Mr M Toni argued that the RAF focused more on the insurance practice of minimising the settlement value of a claim, than it did on providing adequate compensation to victims. The victims of hit-and-run accidents and passengers on motorcycles were excluded from accessing the Fund. The RAF was essentially a system based on a highly legalistic approach to achieving compensation. This made it impossible and beyond the comprehension of most laypersons. On a different topic, lump sum payments were often mismanaged by both victims and their families, and were depleted within years of the award. DPSA proposed a number of steps to make the RAF policy user-friendly to victims. (See attached submission for further details).

Mr Farrow asked whether DPSA was affiliated in any way to any of the other presenters.

Mr M Toni said that DPSA was not affiliated with any of the other presenters but was a part of the umbrella body, SA Federal Council on Disability.

Hospital Association of South Africa submission
Adv K Worrall-Clarke complained that his organisation had not been consulted with regard to the Bill and was concerned about its far-reaching provisions. There was no reference to what constituted a “prescribed tariff”, nor was there any reference to how that tariff would be formulated. The RAF should ensure that the tariff (if implemented) was reasonable, justifiable and administratively fair. Universal Patient Fee Schedule (UPFS) was not a tariff applicable to the private sector. HASA was concerned that the proposals in regards to “emergency medical treatment” could be inconsistent with the National Health Bill and the Constitution, especially on treatment of non-residents. A similar problem related to non-payment of claims relating to “emotional shock”.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would not dwell into the issue of prescribed tariffs at the moment but assured that it would not be an arbitrary process.

Mr Sibande added that equal treatment ought to be available to all.

The meeting was adjourned.


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