A South African family was forced to drag the body of their relative to Old Mutual offices to demand an insurance claim that had delayed.
According video posted online, Ntombenhle Mhlongo and Thandaza Mtshali took the body of uncle Sifiso Justice Mhlongo into a branch of Old Mutual after the company delayed in releasing their funeral money amounting to £1,700 (Ksh222,000).
“We are not rich people. We are poor and they were refusing to pay us. We are still so heartbroken. We kept going back but they kept stonewalling and we were angry, frustrated and just wanted to make sure we could properly prepare and bury him. We thought if the documents do not give them enough answers then maybe the body will,” Ntombenhle told South African media.
At the time of his death, Mtshali, 46, had fathered at least 38 known children, and kept a black ledger with each child’s name, their mother’s name, a home address and contact number.
After the body was brought into the offices, the company released the payments immediately.
“When we got there, the monies were still not in our account. After a while, they told us the monies were in. We left my uncle’s body at the office and went to check at the bank if we could withdrew the cash. Once we did that, we returned to the office and removed his body,” said Thandaza.
Old Mutual said that the incident was “most unsettling” and they insisted that they were “sympathetic towards the family during this difficult time”.
“Although most claims are paid on time, and delays are rare, it is clear that we need to make our additional claims assessment processes easier and faster to ensure we do not let any of our customers down in their time of greatest need. While more than 99% of our valid funeral claims are paid out within the contracted 48 hours, we must strive to make that 100%,” the MD of Old Mutual’s mass and foundation cluster, Clarence Nethengwe, said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
The National Funeral Practitioners Association of South Africa said it would consider taking legal action against Old Mutual, as they want the underwriter to take care of ritual expenses.
“When the body was taken from the mortuary to the Old Mutual it was out of anger so the rituals that were supposed to be done to move the body from one place to another were not done. The soul of that man is still left at the Old Mutual so they will have to cover the costs of performing these rituals,” said the association’s spokesman Muzi Hlengwa.
It is believed the body was returned to the mortuary after the death benefit had been paid out.