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PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
1 June 2005
ROAD ACCIDENT FUND AMENDMENT BILL: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr R Tau (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill: Department’s version as of 1 June 2005
Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill: Department Amended Bill, combined State Legal Advisors and Department versions, as of 9 June 2005
Proposed amendments to Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill – proposed changes by the Department as gazetted on 26/11/04
Original Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill [B64-03] as tabled in 2003
Road Accident Fund Act, No 56 of 1996
Presentation on Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill
The Department of Transport briefed the Committee on the Road Accident Fund (RAF) Amendment Bill. The presentation indicated the intentions of the Department in terms of the amendments, since the Bill had not yet been finalised. Members asked question relating to legal costs, Bill constitutionality, the make-up of medical panels, and accidents on farms. Due to time constraints, they requested that the Department respond later when the formal presentation was made to the NCOP.
Ms du Toit, Department Director: Policy, Advocacy and Co-ordination, said that the Bill was currently in front of the National Assembly and the Portfolio Committee on Transport, so there was no finalised draft to give the Committee. With the Amendment Bill, the Department was hoping to respond to issues raised by the RAF Commission, which had been concluded in 2003. She gave an outline of the revisions being made to the Bill, including issues of governance, capping, general damages, claims for funeral expenses, and the implementation of assessment panels. The Department of Transport hoped to have it finalised before the end of this session of Parliament.
Mr L van Rooyen (ANC) said that since legal costs were so high, the Department could consider capping these. In terms of assessment of serious injury, if the panel was made up of general practitioners, there was a risk that these doctors would overrule the medical opinion of the specialist who had examined the claimant. The RAF would need to consider inflation when setting the claim amount for funeral expenses.
Mr M Mzizi (IFP) said that it was unfortunate that a husband could not claim when he lost his wife. He also brought up the issue of accidents involving farm transport, such as tractors, asking why these accidents had not been taken into account by the RAF.
Reverend P Moatshe (ANC) agreed that the issue of farm accidents was important. There was a risk that if there was a claim was made on behalf of an injured farmworker, that a farmer might keep the money and not pass it on to the injured worker.
One of the Members did not think that the Bill would address the backlog. Some attorneys had been prosecuted for using money supposed to go to claimants, so he asked if the claimants would get their money or be compensated in some other way.
Mr Mzizi suggested that since the Committee was short on time, the Department could respond to the questions at a later time or in writing.
Mr van Rooyen asked how the Bill affected the rule of law as well as constitutionality.
The Chairperson asked Ms du Toit to incorporate her responses into the formal presentation that would be made once the Bill was referred to the NCOP.
The meeting was adjourned.
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