RAF still to pay despite foster care grants

21 April 2015 - 13:04 By Ernest Mabuza

The foster care grants a granny received to take care of three children after their mother was killed in a road accident does not absolve the Road Accident Fund (RAF) from compensating the children for loss of support. The Constitutional Court made this ruling on Monday as it upheld an appeal by a curator for the three‚ now young adults.Their mother‚ Noelle Beyers‚ 41‚ a construction site worker‚ was hit by a car on the R300 near Delft‚ Cape Town‚ on June 16 2002. They were then aged 14‚ nine and six and their father had died 10 months earlier.The children's maternal grandparents successfully applied to be foster parents and received foster care grants of R770 per month for each child until they turned 18 years old.In 2007‚ a court-appointed curator‚ Advocate Wayne Coughlan‚ lodged a claim with the RAF for loss of support on behalf of the children.While the fund agreed that R112 942 should be paid to the children‚ it believed the amount the foster parents had received in grants should be deducted.The grandparents had by then received more than R146 000 in grants‚ which meant the fund would pay the children nothing.The high court was asked to determine whether or not the foster care grants fell to be deducted from the amount agreed to in respect of the loss of support.Judge Robert Henney held in 2013 that the amount should not be deducted. On appeal by the fund‚ the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) found in favour of the Road Accident Fund‚ stating that foster care grants were to be taken into account in assessing the damages to be awarded for loss of support.On Monday‚ the Constitutional Court upheld the appeal by Coughlan.Acting Judge Zukisa Tshiqi dismissed the SCA’s reliance on a previous judgment which held that not to deduct the grant would amount to double recovery by a claimant at the expense of the taxpayer.“That reasoning is not sustainable. It fails to acknowledge the different roles that the state assumes when it makes the payments‚” Tshiqi said.In cases of child grants‚ the state assumed the role of a caregiver. When the state paid compensation for loss of support through the fund‚ it stepped into the shoes of the wrongdoer‚ she said.“It is irrelevant that the money is paid by two state organs because its objectives are completely different and the state‚ when it makes the payment‚ does so to fulfil a myriad of obligations.” – RDM News Wire, TMG Courts and Law

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