Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport has adopted the final report on South Africa’s new benefit scheme – paving the way for the Road Accident Fund’s replacement.
Chairperson of the Committee, Dikeledi Magadzi, said the committee was satisfied with the amount of hard work that members of the committee had put into the pending Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS).
“We are satisfied that the new scheme is desirable to all South Africans. Through this bill, road accident victims will be able to receive more benefits than previously was the case in the old regime of the Road Accident Fund (RAF),” said Magdzi.
“The committee legislates in order to benefit poor South Africans, and the quality of input that the committee received from South Africans will ensure that this law achieves that.”
The Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters are opposed to the bill, but the majority of members of the committee accepted the adoption of the report.
The bill is intended to, among other things, ensure that benefits are more skewed towards the victim than sharing them with legal representatives that help with claims applications.
It will also ensure comprehensive medical benefits, timeous processing of claims, and introduce a no-fault system.
BusinessTech looked at some of the biggest proposed changes and concerns below:
Road Accident Benefit Scheme
The RABS is set to replace the current Road Accident Fund and will act as a social security scheme for the victims of road accidents.
According to Kirstie Haslam, a partner at DSC Attorney, some of the major changes introduced by the bill include:
- Payments for loss of income will no longer be made in lump sums – instead, they’re to be paid monthly, will be capped, and in some cases limited to the national average salary (approximately R3,500 per month);
- Regardless of whether an individual has been fully rehabilitated, payments will automatically cease after 15 years; when the injured party returns to work; or when the injured party reaches the age of 60;
- Minors will qualify for compensation for lost earning potential – again capped at the national average – only when they turn 18, regardless of how serious their injuries are;
- Claims must be paid through an administrator instead of a private attorney;
- All claims will need to be submitted electronically;
- Claimants will have to cover the costs of obtaining medical and police reports, with limited potential for reimbursement through the fund.
The biggest concerns have been raised about the ‘no fault’ clause and how the scheme will be funded.
According to the DA, the ‘no fault’ system would also apply to drunk drivers in South Africa.
“The RABS Bill proposes that anyone claiming from RABS (which would replace the current Road Accident Fund) would not require to prove if a vehicle crash was caused by any party involved in that crash. This means that even if an accident was caused by a person, that person will still be able to claim from the proposed RABS,” said the party’s Manny de Freitas.
Legal experts have also warned that the RABS’ implementation will see fuel levies rising by an estimated 75% and reduced compensation being provided to road accident victims and their dependents.
“Other than the dire effect the bill will have on accident victims claims, the failure to highlight the anticipated and unavoidable increase in the fuel levy to the public in order to meet the funding requirements for RABS is especially disturbing, considering the latest outcry about the price of fuel and the fuel levy itself,” said Haslam.