Tag Archive | Social Assistance

Child support grants – Should they be deducted?

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the thirteenth edition of Independent Actuarial Consultant’s (IAC) monthly newsletter. Via this newsletter we will keep you updated of all the latest case law relating to motor vehicle accidents and the quantification of damages relating to personal injury claims.

We will also keep you updated of IAC developments, events and training seminars and lighten up your day with a joke or inspirational quote.

Training

I would like to thank everyone involved with the training sessions in Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth for helping make it a huge success. In all we had 120 people who attended the sessions.

I am very proud to have been able to be a part of same and I look forward to next year.

THE ROAD ACCIDENT FUND v NTOMBIZANELE FLORENCE TIMIS – (29/09) [2010] ZASCA 30 (26 March 2010)

Crime Scene

Mr Alfred Vuyisile Makeleni (the deceased) died from injuries sustained after being struck by a motor vehicle on 28 July 2001. He was married to Ms Ntombizanele Timis, the respondent in this matter, in terms of customary law. They had two minor children, namely Siphokazi born on 24 June 1996 and Zandile born on 25 May 1999. The deceased was the sole breadwinner. Shortly after his death, the respondent, who was unemployed, applied for the benefit of her children for a child support grant in terms of the Social Assistance Act 59 of 1992, which has since been repealed by the Social Assistance Act 13 of 2004 (the Act). The application was approved during November 2001.

The respondent instituted action for damages arising from the death of her husband. The court awarded the respondent damages and Liebenberg J held that the child support grants could not be said to have been received in consequence of the deceased’s death and that same could therefore not be deducted from the final award.

The RAF appealed and the issue on appeal is whether or not the child support grants should have been deducted by the trial court from the damages awarded to the respondent in her representative capacity for loss of support.

Two conflicting considerations must be weighed up in the light of what is considered to be fair and just in all the circumstances of the case. The one is that a plaintiff should not receive double compensation. The other is that the wrongdoer or his insurer ought not to be relieved of liability on account of some fortuitous event such as the generosity of a third party.

It is not in dispute that the deceased was responsible for the support of his family during his lifetime. The position, however, changed upon his death as his family became indigent. The respondent had to apply for the child care grant as the parent who had provided maintenance had died. The children received a benefit of a social grant because they had lost their father, a breadwinner. The child support grants are therefore directly linked to the death of the deceased.

In this matter, the State assumed responsibility for the support of the children as a result of the breadwinner’s death. The moneys paid out in terms of the Road Accident Fund Act and the Social Assistance Act are funded by the public through two State organs. Not to deduct the child grant would amount to double recovery by the respondent at the expense of the taxpayer and this is incapable of justification. It was not the intention of the Legislature to compensate the dependents twice.

The court a quo accordingly erred in finding that the child support grants should not be deducted. Its order in that regard must be set aside.

The appeal is upheld.

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