By Zelda Venter
Pretoria – Nearly 13 years ago, a teenager was about to start her matric year when she was a passenger in a car which was involved in an accident.
Mmakgoshi Edith Molala, who was 17 in January 2008 when the accident occured, waited more than 12 years for justice. She at first lodged her claim directly to the Road Accident Fund (RAF). Nothing came of it and the fund later told her the claims had prescribed.
Seven years later an attorney took on her plight, resulting in a judge recently ordering that she should receive more than R8-million from the RAF.
Molala sustained a severe head injury with facial scarring that resulted in mood disturbances, memory and concentration difficulty, personality and behavioural changes as a result of her injuries.
She was at the time hospitalised for more than a month.
Shortly after the accident her mother made enquiries with the fund as to what she had to do. According to court papers she was informed that they should lodge a claim directly with the RAF and not involve attorneys as it will cost them too much money.
The family got all the documentation together and lodged the claim with the RAF directly on July 22, 2010.
They said that between 2010 and 2015 they visited the Menlyn branch on several occasions but never got an answer as to what is happening with the claim.
One of the responses was that the claim is now being dealt with at the Durban branch and that they should enquire there. The family did not have the means to travel to Durban and all calls and emails went unanswered, they said.
The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, was later told that before the accident the tenager never failed any grade, after the accident she tried to obtain her matric three times but was unsuccessful.
She also tried to advance her education with various certificates and diplomas after the accident but failed to successfully complete any of them.
Molala struggled to hold on to any employment for longer than three months due to her being emotionally unstable. She is currently unemployed and stays with her mother who is a pensioner.
During that time the claim also prescribed as the RAF has a period of 5 years in which to finalise a claim, whereafter it prescribes, if summons is not issued by an attorney.
The court was told that neither she nor her family was ever consulted and they were never informed that her claim will prescribe if she does not engage the services of an attorney.
In 2015 they came across Gert Nel Attorneys who took over the matter and at the end secured more than R8-million for her.
The fund at first vehemently defended the merits of the claim on the technicality that the claim has prescribed. This was notwithstanding the fact that they had let the claim prescribe in their own hands.
The merits of the claim were finally conceded in August 2018 but Molala was forced to obtain a new date regarding how much damages should be awarded to her.
Her attorneys on several occasions tried to settle the matter out of court but no response was forthcoming from the fund.
The money portion of the claim was recently before the court , when the fund made an offer far less than half of what Molala claimed.
Judge Cassim Sardiwalla ordered a representative of the RAF to be present as they did not have an attorney to represent them. They refused to come and only sent an email to the plaintiff’s attorney wherein they confirmed that they will abide by whatever decision the court made.
Judge Sardiwalla ordered the fund to pay an amount of R8 473 306.90.
This is for general damages and loss of income.