Application to remove Road Accident Fund head Collins Letsoalo sees judgment reserved
Share this article:
Pretoria - Judgment was reserved in the application by a group of lawyers challenging the appointment of Road Accident Fund (RAF) chief executive Collins Letsoalo.
The application was heard virtually by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
The court requested the various parties, which include six law challenging Letsoalo’s appointment, as well as Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and Letsoalo, to file final legal arguments in the matter by this Friday.
No date has been given on when the judgment will be delivered.
The law firms have asked the court to review and set aside the appointment of Letsoalo. They claim he made misrepresentations in his CV when he applied for the position in 2019, and argued his appointment was irrational and should be overturned.
Responding, Letsoalo’s advocate, Cedric Puckrin SC, argued his client had no first-hand knowledge of the thought processes by which the RAF board decided on his appointment as chief executive.
However, he objected to the personal attacks “on his dignity and reputation” by the applicants.
“The applicants have attempted to impugn his reputation deliberately, falsely and vexatiously to mislead the honourable court,” Puckrin said.
He added that the applicants’ continued persistence in their application was abusive.
“Their allegations against the CEO are based on hearsay,” Puckrin argued.
He told the court that the RAF had clearly been turned around since his client’s appointment.
Letsoalo said in court papers: “I respectfully submit that during my first year at the helm of the RAF we have made significant progress in turning around the fund’s parlous state.
“We have implemented structures to combat corruption and to reduce legal costs. The RAF was embattled with litigation the entire year to stifle this.
“Under my leadership, the RAF will continue to make progress and to combat corruption.”
Letsoalo was appointed acting chief executive of the RAF in September 2019, and his appointment was made permanent in August 2020.
Puckrin said that before Letsoalo’s appointment, the RAF had been “technically insolvent” for decades. For the first time in decades, under his leadership, the RAF was implementing structures to safeguard the fuel levy.
“The chief executive and the team at the RAF implemented a five-year plan to reduce the legal costs, a revision of the structure and business process, integrated claim assessment system, rehabilitation network, and the revision of the supply chain management structures,” Puckrin said.
He added that the RAF also implemented structures to combat corruption.
“Since his appointment, the RAF received a clean audit from the auditor-general during 2020,” Puckrin said.
The various law firms who brought the application, however, expressed frustration at the manner in which he handled payment claims for road accident victims.
The law firms want his appointment overturned because he is seen as a threat to the proper functioning of the RAF. They say he was appointed on false facts.
According to them, he was a failure during his tenure as acting chief executive of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).
It was said that under Letsoalo’s leadership as acting chief executive, the RTMC was not only lacking funds, but closed permanently.
“His explanation of his short stay at Prasa is characterised by understatement. He effectively contends that there was a glitch with his salary.
“He claims to have devised a turnaround strategy at Prasa. The record does not reflect this,” it was stated in one of the applicants’ affidavits.