Sheila's Story - read how tragedy played out

  • Bobroff Ronald April Full (2)
The heart-breaking story of 67-year-old Sheila and her 73-year-old husband (names withheld) were involved in a collision back in 1994. Both were seriously injured, although she more so than him, particularly in light of the fact that she underwent a serious shoulder surgery a few days prior which was completely undone in the accident. Pictured left are Ronald and Darren Bobroff outside the High Court.
by ANT KATZ | Apr 06, 2016

The couple were represented by Darren Bobroff of Robert Bobroff and Partners Inc (RBP), Sheila says. Her husband received R48,000 of the R100,000 Road Accident Fund (RAF) pay-out (meaning RBP kept 52 per cent), while her matter took longer to settle and she was eventually awarded R300,000.

Bobroff - Darren“I only got R198,000 of that,” she told Jewish Report Online, while RBP retained R102,000. They should have been allowed to take a maximum of R75,000 as prescribed by law.

The Act relating to contingency fees, the so-called No-Win-No-Pay situation - is quite explicit. It prescribes that firms like RBP, working on a contingency basis: “can charge twice the normal attorney-client fees, or take 25 per cent of the settlement, whichever is the LESSER amount.”

RIGHT: Darren Bobroff

Sheila and her husband were sent to a host of doctors by the lawyers to prepare for the RAF claims.

She herself was sent to four doctors: “one was at Wits, one in Pretoria and two in Corlett Drive,” she recalls. “Darren would send their driver, Edward, to collect me and take me to doctors – Edward was such a nice man, and I thought Darren was too.” RBP, says Sheila, couldn’t do enough for them. Little did she know at the time that she would have to pay for every cent, and more, in the end, she says.

“I asked Edward one day how ‘mister’ Darren was. He told me that he was in Australia. Already then they were scouting out the country,” she says.

Bobroff fallout logo

LEFT: Ronald, left and Darren Bobroff who Sheila calls mamserim

“One gets hurt in an accident, one is off work, one has to endure pain and suffering, and one puts oneself in the hands of Jewish people one feels one can trust.”

The breaking of that trust, says Sheila, is what she feels the most hurt by.

“If I saw the Bobroffs face-to-face today I would call them mamserim. I’ve had them in chunks,” said a now furious Sheila. She also feels a bit stupid for falling for some of the stories she was told and some of the things she saw.

“I’ve had a hard life,” says Sheila, who was born with a club foot which caused her to have 45 operations to remedy. There were things that she feels she should have noticed, "writing on the wall" issues she says. They had a very high staff turnover, she says, and that is often a warning sign. “One of them was forever in Australia.”

And in 1994, says Sheila, RBP was flourishing. “It was like a railway station in their reception. They even had to build on to their fancy offices in Rosebank.”

No medical aid

Sheila’s main injury as a result of the accident 22 years ago was that she had “just had reconstructive shoulder surgery” a few days before the event and the accident put her shoulder into a worse situation that it had been.

Bobroff april pullquoteHer husband, now 73, had bad whiplash “which he still suffers a lot of pain from,” she says.

As they had no medical aid, Darren Bobroff had been wonderful at the time and had Sheila checked in to the Morningside clinic where the operation was re-done. “But the surgery wasn’t successful,” says Sheila. “Darren was supposed to organise a second operation but he never came back to me.” Again, in retrospect, Sheila feels a little silly that that she had allowed herself to have been taken in.

After her “pay-out” says Sheila, and before she knew she would need further surgery, she asked Darren if by settling the claim the RAF would no longer entertain claims in this regard.

“Darren said to me that any further treatment you need will be covered,” she says. “He told me to just go to Morningside Clinic where I had the original operation and the RAF will give you a letter and they will pay for any further treatment as a result of the accident.”

Sheila found that comforting as she has no medical aid. But she continued to suffer from ever-increasing pain, until late last year, and “because I was in so much agony,” she called the Road Accident Fund directly. Sheila explained what she believes Darren had told her regarding RAF paying out any future claims for pain and suffering.

“They just laughed at me and said it was not true,” she says. She intended to take the matter up with Darren but was amidst another family tragedy at the time so thought she would wait.

Now, she says, she and her husband have to accept that “we are living in pain because of Darren’s ‘lies’,” she told Jewish Report.

And, as far as the Bobroffs are concerned, says Sheila, she would like to tell them: “As my bobba used to say (excuse spelling of Yiddish -ED) “zos du waksen vic a tzibilla Arunta en die vees in de heich” (may they grow like onions with their heads in the ground).

We still have pain and suffering

It is 22 years on, and Sheila and her hubby are still suffering. As they have no medical aid, Sheila has resigned herself to the fact that she has no use of her arm. It hurts all the time, she says, and excruciatingly so when she uses it – so she just doesn’t, she says.

Sheila tells the story of one single consultation and examination which Edward drove her to Pretoria for. “He was so nice,” says Sheila, he would patiently wait for me and then take me home afterwards.”

The doctor “asked me to pick up two buckets with four bricks each in each one, so that she could assess the damage to my shoulder. I am not a bricklayer,” Sheila told her, and, in any case, she says she would not have been able to raise the bucket with the damaged arm at all. “Not even an inch,” she says.

When she was finally paid out her miserly R198,000, says Sheila, and was given a breakdown of the bill of costs, that single doctor’s visit was billed at R25,000, She has no idea what the doctor had actually charged RBP, but is in no doubt that it was a lot less than that. “I was none the wiser that I’d been ripped off at the time,” she told JR Online yesterday, “I was just happy thinking the ordeal was over.”

Clearly, for this couple, it never will be…

Follow the back-story

  • February 2014 to 19 March - THE BACK-STORY IN FIVE INSTALMENTS
  • 22 March – Jewish Report Online -BOBROFFS DO A RUNNER, 68-year old Elaine Bobroff was arrested this morning according to her husband, Ronald, who with his son Darren fled SA for Oz over the weekend after earlier this month admitting that a contingency fee agreement they got some of their clients to sign was illegal.
  • 22 March –  LISTEN TO RONALD BOBROFF talking to CapeTalk's Kieno Kammies from Oz this morning saying his wife had been arrested. Read what we have and hear the radio interview. Police and Hawks spokesmen are looking into the matter for SAJR. Come back to follow this evolving story...
  • 22 March – The unteste shura – only on JR Online. BOBBA ELAINE ARRESTED THIS MORNING and appeared before the Johannesburg Specialised Crimes Court on a charge of fraud this afternoon. Her husband Ronald, son Darren and his family skipped the country over the weekend, Read about the outcome of Elaine's fraud and money-laundering trial today… only on
  • 23 March – husband and son flee to Australia accused of fleecing South Africans of millions, and 68-year-old Bobba Elaine was left to carry the can, CHARGED WITH FRAUD OF R26M AND MONEY LAUNDERING. Hawks say investigation shows much more is missing.
  • 30 March - Bobroff's is running UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT. On Thursday afternoon the Hawks are expected to release the report on their investigation and Jewish Report Online will then, hopefully, be able to tick many of the outstanding boxes
  • 01 April –HAWKS CAN’T COMPLETE INVESTIGATION- Hawks were expected to complete investigation 29 March, draft a report on morning of 30thand brief the media in the afternoon on certain key elements such as how much money was misappropriated, how, how many victims there were, and what was the state of the trust accounts. They didn’t – as more and more claimants kept coming forward.
  • 04 April – Interpol issued notices and EXTRADITION PROCESS BEGUN on the go
  • 06 April - CHARGED R25,000 FOR ONE DOCTOR VISIT - All the latest on the Bobroff scandal
  • 06 April - Read SHEILA'S STORY to understand just some of the heartbreak the Bobroffs have left in their wake.


  1. 5 oldboy 07 Apr
    The details of this story seem strange since in 1994 Darren would have only been 3 years out of high school having matriculated in 1991 and would not have completed a law degree yet. 
  2. 4 nat cheiman 07 Apr
    These stories are tragic indeed. Not only because the clients were Jewish, but because being involved in an accident where serious injuries are sustained is no joke. 
    Then the RAF claim is also a protracted affair with alot of stresses and strains.
    I sincerely hope that Capt. Whateverhis name is from the Hawks knows what he is doing. Somehow, I don't think so. The RAF cases, and laundering/theft/ of money overseas is a complex issue that even accountants battle with, let alone a policeman in the Hawks ( Turkeys). Inasmuch as the Scorpions ( dung beetles) were not able to work out what happened with Rees & Tannenbaum, 7 or 8 years ago, I suspect that a similar fate awaits this matter. Commercial crime requires educated people who are qualified and understand accounting/ banking and transactional laws. Not your garden variety of cop who looks forward to his dop after work.
    Its a pity they skipped. They could've explained all the lacuna's in these cases.
  3. 3 ANT KATZ 07 Apr
    I bow to your knowledge of Darren's age, 'oldboy,'  maybe they mixed him up with Ronald. I will follow up as we wouldn't want them bopping the wrong Bobroff. Thanks for the info. ANT KATZ
  4. 2 nat cheiman 07 Apr
    My daughter  was at law school with Darren and she was admitted as an attorney in 2001. It follows that Darren is roughly my daughters age (42/3) give or take .
    I reiterate that in 1994, the sum obtained from the RAF, was a fortune. She would in all likelihood have received a cerificate for future medicals as well. If RBP didn't give it to her, she can go to the RAF and get the certificate.( On production of her ID).That cerificate entitles her to FREE MEDICAL TREATMENT ONLY FOR THE INJURY AND SEQUELAE THEREFROM. Perhaps she is not in a bad position, because if a certificate was awarded ( as generally is the case), then she will get free treatment.
    I am not trying to lessen her anger/ annoyance about her experience with RBP, but am trying to find a solution for a person who deserves/needs to get proper treatment.
  5. 1 ANT KATZ 08 Apr
    I spoke to Sheila this morning who confirmed that the accident occurred in 1994. I asked if it was possible she had dealt with Robert and she insisted it was Darren. She then checked the hospital records from her operation and, in fact, the accident occurred in 2004 she has now confirmed. Well spotted, readers...  -ANT KATZ


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