Government Pushes For Obscene Road Accident Benefit Scheme To Become Law

Despite universal opposition to the Road Accident Benefit Scheme - which has been labelled as controversial, criminal, obscene, abhorrent, unconstitutional and appalling – the South African government is pushing to get this monstrous scheme passed into law. This article is not for the faint hearted.
Jason Snyman
2019-03-05

The Road Accident Benefit Scheme – which has been variously labelled as controversial, criminal, obscene, abhorrent, unconstitutional and appalling – has been reintroduced to Parliament. Because, of course it has.

Despite near-universal opposition to the bill – that could see drunk drivers rewarded for causing accidents – the ANC government has forgone all logic and rational thinking in favour of forging ahead, regardless. Because, of course it has.

The bill, previously put to vote before the National Assembly in December of last year, was postponed, pending an independent review, after opposition parties (IFP, DA, EFF, UDM, COPE, ACDP and FF+) staged a walk-out in protest, leaving the ANC as the bill’s only advocates. 

Opposition parties, advocacy groups and spokespersons for the legal profession all claimed that the bill was being used as a mechanism for the ANC to garner voter support ahead of the 2019 elections. Yet another political ploy. 

Chair of the Association for the Protection of Road Accident Victims, Pieter de Bruyn, said:

The ANC constantly stuck to ignoring the constitution, misleading the public, prejudicing the poor and putting party politics before the best interest of the people of SA.

Road Accident Benefit Scheme – What You Need To Know

For those who aren’t familiar with the Road Accident Fund fiasco – or its proposed replacement, the looming Road Accident Benefit Scheme – here are the key points you need to know. Under the RABS:

  • You’ll have no right to approach a court, should you be unsatisfied with the benefits on offer. 
  • The RABS will pay medical and healthcare service providers directly. This means that, should you be injured, you no longer have a choice in which medical practitioners or caregivers you want to use.
  • The RABS will take over all existing and future RAF claims, as well as the current RAF staff.
  • Under the current RAF, in severe cases you may have an attorney champion your cause for you. This right falls away under the RABS. You will have no right to legal representation.
  • And of course, human rights will be blatantly violated as well; with child victims of road accidents no longer being able to launch any claims until they are 18 years old, no matter the severity of their injuries.
  • No more lump sum payment settlements will be made to those who have experienced severe injuries or damages. The RABS will make monthly payments, with a maximum pay out of R44 000, annually. Consider the fact that you may lose a limb or the ability to work, and R44 000 makes for poor compensation.
  • The RABS will offer no cover for any victims who earn more than the national average income of R219 820 per year.
  • These payments will not increase in line with inflation. They will also stop the moment you die, leaving your dependants vulnerable and possibly doomed to live in a refrigerator box under a bridge somewhere.
  • The RAF takes about 120 days to settle your claims. The RABS will take double the time, and even then, benefits aren’t a sure thing.
  • The RAF and RABS will have to run concurrently for at least twenty years, due to a huge backlog of unresolved claims, which could result in the fuel levy doubling. If the government wants two systems, guess who’s going to be paying for them? That’s right. The taxpayer. 
  • The RABS, which is supposedly meant to reduce the financial burden of the RAF, could actually become more expensive. This is owing to the fact that administrator, funeral and an increase to minimum national income have reportedly not been costed, according to an independent audit of the bill by True South actuaries.
  • Under the proposed RABS, accidents will be treated on a no-fault basis. A no-fault scheme means that any drivers who can prove they have been in a motor vehicle accident will be able to submit a claim to RABS. What this means, essentially, is that all road accident victims will be able to receive benefits, even if you’re a drunken lunatic and the accident was your entire fault.

Few bills have ever been so relentlessly horrific. 

Problems, Problems Everywhere

These concerns are echoed by DSC Attorneys – a Cape Town based firm specialising in road accident claims, personal injury claims and medical malpractice. On the RABS bill showing up on the Order Paper in the National Assembly again last week, Director at DSC Attorneys, Kirstie Haslam, said:

This is despite universal opposition to its introduction in the National Assembly last year, when it could not be voted on at least twice due to a mass walk-out by every single opposition party, and further in light of the public outcry surrounding the moral obscenity of rewarding drunk and reckless drivers for their conduct.

According to Haslam, the RABS is simply unaffordable, and it’s a classic case of the government trying to squeeze blood from a stone.

By its own admission, the Department of Transport acknowledges that the estimated 75% increase to the RAF fuel levy (needed to fund the new scheme) will only be the starting point, and additional taxes will have to be introduced to fund it, offering little in return.

Haslam goes on to beg the question; how does the government plan on financing this monstrous scheme, when the tax-payer is already so grossly over-burdened?

How indeed? As we ourselves recently reported, South Africans have just been laden with yet another shameless cash-grab of a tax – the Carbon Tax – as well as increases on the general fuel levy and the Road Accident Fund levy. 

With the Road Accident Benefit Scheme circling like a filthy, gluttonous vulture, road users and taxpayers will likely be beaten over the back with taxes and levies until they’re dead. The Eskom, SABC, SAA, PRASA horrorshow will pale in comparison. They’re coming for all of your money – all of it – and they’re no longer afraid to run roughshod over your constitutional rights to accomplish it. 

South Africa has one of the highest road-fatality rates in the world – ranking 38th globally – and the proposal of a no-fault based system being introduced here is criminally insane. 

There are numerous examples of where no-fault systems have been introduced and have failed – including in first world countries with significantly lower road death tolls – with those countries reverting to a fault-based system.

The RABS proponents will, in all likelihood, seek to pass the bill in the next week.

Part of the reason why the RAF levy is consistently raised, year after year, is due to the fact that there are so many uninsured drivers behind the wheel in South Africa. Their vehicles aren't covered, and neither are they for medical or consequent damages. This leads to more and more RAF claims, which the government will avoid paying at all costs, and in turn, leads to consecutive hikes in the levy. 

With the RABS darkening our doorstep, though, submitting any claims with the help of specialised firms, such as DSC Attorneys, could soon become next to impossible. 

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