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Some residents of the Eastern Cape province who participated in the public hearings on the Road Accident Benefit Scheme (Rabs) Bill, are hopeful that the draft legislation, once passed into law, will bring huge relief to thousands of road accident victims who are failed by unscrupulous lawyers and incompetent staff at the Road Accident Fund (RAF).

The participants told the Portfolio Committee on Transport that they supported the Bill’s intentions to limit the use of lawyers, and to repeal the current Road Accident Fund Act, saying the fund has failed many road accident victims.

Declaring her support for the Bill, Ms Nomaqhawe Doyi said she hoped the Rabs Bill will bring an end to all the suffering and the long wait for claims to be settled by the RAF.

“I have, in the past seen victims of road accidents suffering, waiting years for their compensation, some even dying without being paid. I hope this Bill will bring an end to all that and fix all the wrongs,” she told the committee during public hearings in East London on Tuesday.

Another resident who supported the Bill was M Nondumiso Madosini, who said the legislation will revive hopes of many road accident victims who have been failed by the current system under the administration of the RAF.

“This Bill brings hope to many of us, the delays in settling claims will come to an end, and the rejection of compensation on the grounds that victims were not injured enough and other wrongs, must be fixed through this new law,” she said.

Mr Greg Whittaker, who said he supported some parts of the Bill, told the committee that it was essential to consider the consider cost implications of the new scheme.

He endorsed the Bill’s intention to provide rehabilitation to road accident victims and making foreign citizens ineligible for financial compensation, only giving them medical care.

“It is also important for the new scheme to put measures in place to prevent the defrauding of claimants by lawyers, I support some parts of the Bill and don’t accept that unemployed victims of road accidents cannot be compensated because they cannot prove the loss of income,” he said.

Masibulele Sikani had an issue with the no-fault clause of the Bill and said “it doesn’t make sense that even the driver who was wrong, will be paid, and I also have a problem with settlements paid out monthly – meaning somebody will keep our money and generate interest – who will benefit from that interest? I don’t support the Bill”.

During the public hearings the committee does not comment or respond to the submissions made by people.

The reason we are here is to listen to the views of the public on the Bill, there is no wrong or right input, we welcome all views and we will consider them before finalising the Bill – this is a constitutional requirement for Parliament to consult the public in the legislative process.

The Rabs Bill seeks to replace the Road Accident Fund Act and to improve the administration of benefits and payouts to accident victims and to provide for a social security scheme for the victims of road accidents and to establish the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Administrator to administer and implement the scheme.

By Sakhile Mokoena

1 August 2018