Take down of RAF Fraudsters

Road accident fund

The crack down in the alleged defrauding of, and corruption in,The Road Accident Fund (RAF) this week  led to the arrest of 17 people.

The Gauteng police said last week their members, working in conjunction with the directorate of public prosecutions, began arresting suspects. By Sunday, police had arrested 17 alleged fraudsters acting as frontmen for emergency services and physicians, attorneys, police manager Henriette Bester said.

This follows on remarks made by Transport Minister Dullah Omar, who was quoted as saying that all indicators pointed towards the truth that a staggering 25 per cent of annual fund claims – valued at R300 million – were deceptive.

A whole chain of people were purportedly involved in claiming for fictional accidents or in adding additional, uninjured folks, onto actual injury claims.

The majority of the socalled injury victims were jobless, illiterate people who were duped into supporting claim forms within the belief they were signing job applications, reported on Monday.

RAF spokesman Themba Mhambi said more than 10000 fraud cases were being investigated in Durban only. Gauteng’s total numbered about 600, he added.

Bester said the suspects had openly encouraged the manufacture of claims by recruiting members of the people – who were not injury victims – to lodge claims.

Of the 17 suspects arrested, 15 had appeared in the Pretoria magistrate’s court by Sunday and nine had previously been released on bail. 2 more individuals were scheduled to appear in court on Monday, she said.

The RAF, a government fund designed to assist individuals injured in accidents, is financed by other road users and motorists through a fuel levy. In August this past year the fund’s management instituted an audit to investigate allegations of fraud, corruption, insufficient financial control systems and poor corporate governance.

The fund had suffered from both internal and external corruption, and fingers were pointed at fund management and at lawyers managing injury victims’ claims.

In 2000, the Department of Transport reported that of 143 cases investigated, 56 per cent of what was due to injury victims was kept by unscrupulous attorneys.

That same year, the fund fell deeper into debt once an operating loss of R771 million brought its total shortfall to R9,2 billion – 9,2 per cent greater than in 1999.

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