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RAF and its CEO face contempt of court suit

Discovery Health plans to launch contempt of court proceedings against both the Road Accident Fund and CEO Collins Letsoalo “within the next few days” because it has failed to comply with a Constitutional Court ruling to resume paying medical scheme claims.

Letsoalo has already been found in contempt of court for another, earlier matter, relating to a damages payout for an accident victim that dates back to 2018.

In the latest case, the apex court’s decision on 19 October marked the end of the RAF’s attempts to appeal against a High Court ruling to resume payments to medical schemes.

Discovery Health had won an urgent application to have the RAF’s directive declared unlawful and set aside, effectively compelling the organisation to resume paying medical scheme claims, but the RAF sought to appeal this, taking its challenge to the Constitutional Court, which in October declined to hear the matter.

“Regrettably, despite the courts declaring the RAF’s directive to halt payments of medical scheme members’ valid claims from the RAF unlawful, it has not resumed payments of these …to members,” said Discovery Health CEO Ryan Noach.

“This is in direct breach of the High Court ruling, which was enforced by the Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court.”

The Constitutional Court handed down its decision more than two weeks ago, reports Business Day.

“Discovery has no alternative but to resort to seeking an order declaring the RAF and its CEO in contempt of court. The application will be served on the RAF and its CEO within the next few days,” Noach added.

Discovery Health, which has 19 clients, including Discovery Health Medical Scheme and 18 smaller restricted schemes, has previously said its clients are collectively owed about R140m by the RAF.

Deeper trouble

Its decision to challenge the RAF’s defiance follows a separate matter in which the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) found Letsoalo to be in contempt due to the RAF’s failure to comply with a 2018 court order to provide accident victim Nelson Mazibuko with an undertaking to cover future medical expenses.

Judge Elizabeth Kubushi – on 12 October – found Letsoalo in contempt of the order that had been issued on 29 January 2018. She ordered Letsoalo be committed to imprisonment for three months, suspended for a year, on condition he complies with the order within 15 days from the date of service of her order.

Letsoalo was also ordered to pay the costs of the contempt of court application brought against him.

Alicia Steenkamp, from Van Dyk Steenkamp Attorneys, said Mazibuko, from Mpumalanga, had instituted action against the RAF for damages in an accident on 7 May 2011.

The 2018 order declaring the RAF liable for 80% of his proven or agreed damages was physically served on the RAF and Letsoalo by Mazibuko’s then-attorneys.

The RAF was invited numerous times to provide Mazibuko with the undertaking in the court order, she added, via a formal letter, and then an email, but it failed or neglected to supply the undertaking.

Undertaking

On 15 October 2020, Judge Neukircher issued an order in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) ordering the RAF to pay R176 143.68 for Mazibuko’s loss of earnings into the trust account of his attorneys but postponed indefinitely the issue of general damages he had suffered.

Neukircher also ordered the RAF to pay Mazibuko’s court costs.

Steenkamp added that, as a last resort, Mazibuko emailed Letsoalo directly on 14 June 2023 requesting him to provide him with the undertaking within five days.

“No reply or communication from the respondents (the RAF and/or Letsoalo) has been forthcoming since the email dated 14 June 2023,” she said.

‘No knowledge’

However, Letsoalo told Moneyweb on Friday he knew nohing about “this contempt of court matter” and the attorneys must “prove where they actually served me any papers”.

“If there is anything the RAF would do, it would apply for rescission of this order.

“We are not aware of it, and there is no way the RAF can knowingly ignore a court order,” he said.

Letsoalo added that the case happened in 2018, that the RAF deals with “thousands and thousands of matters”, and the expectation is that “Collins Letsoalo must know about something happening in Mpumalanga”.

“It is sitting in head office. I have no knowledge (of it) unless it is brought to my attention. I am not contemptuous. I can never in my life go against a court order knowingly.

“That would be quite stupid of me … because I understand what that means.

“It’s not true that this (court order) was served on me. I was not even represented in court. It happened before my time,” he said.

Letsoalo also denied receiving a personal email about the contempt of court order.

“In South Africa, you can’t serve papers via email. It’s not allowed unless I agree to receive them by email,” he said.

While more than 15 days have since elapsed, by Monday this week, the sheriff of the court had been unable to serve him personally with the ruling, and thus no warrant has been issued for his arrest, said Steenkamp.

 

BusinessLIVE article – Discovery goes after defiant RAF for contempt of court (Open access)

 

Moneyweb article – RAF CEO could be jailed for contempt of court (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Discovery setback in tussle with RAF

 

Discovery appeals dismissal of application for RAF to resume payments

 

Court blow for Discovery Health in RAF feud

 

RAF heads for Appeal Court over medical aid payout ban ruling

 

 

 

 

 

 

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