'We are still so heartbroken' - family speaks after taking body to Old Mutual as proof of death

2019-11-20 15:44
(Screen grab via @Vutomi_Basil, Twitter)

(Screen grab via @Vutomi_Basil, Twitter)

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The KwaZulu-Natal family that took the body of a relative to an Old Mutual branch to receive a R30 000 policy payout is distraught and traumatised by the incident.

"We were coping with so many different things during that time. We are not rich people. We are poor and they were refusing to pay us. We are still so heartbroken," family member, Ntombenhle Mhlongo, told News24 on Wednesday.

She was one of the relatives who could be seen in a viral video carrying the body of Sifiso Mtshali to offices of Old Mutual as proof of his death.

The video went viral late on Tuesday and on Wednesday morning, leading to a public outcry on social media.

Speaking out, Mhlongo said they dealt with incompetent staff who did not help the grieving family. They had been battling to get the claim processed for nine days.

She said Mtshali died almost two weeks ago on Wednesday, November 7. Family members visited Old Mutual offices in the KwaDukuza CBD on Monday, November 11, to cash out the R30 000 policy.

"At first, they told us we need to wait 48 hours before we can get anything. We handed in all documents and followed all of their instructions."

The family returned to the offices on Thursday, November 14 after not hearing from the company.

"We went in and waited all of Thursday. They kept telling us we had to wait for an assessment but eventually, they said we must come on Friday."

Last straw

However, the next day, the family was stonewalled again.

"We got there early in the morning and waited three hours. When we asked what was taking so long, they again said the assessment was happening and we must wait another three hours later."

This was the last straw for the family.

"We were angry, frustrated and just wanted to make sure we could properly prepare and bury him by Sunday as Zulus. We thought, if the documents are not giving them enough answers, maybe the body will," said Mhlongo.

She said the family then made arrangements with the mortuary staff and their funeral company to transport the body.

"When we did that, they paid us immediately. They never said anything about the assessment after that."

Mhlongo said the family was frustrated and harrowed by their ordeal.

"We were so frustrated, sad and going through so many emotions and they put us through even more. If we could afford lawyers, we would sue them, but we are poor people. They hurt us."

'Isolated', 'regrettable'

Despite assurances that they would comment before midday, Old Mutual is yet to respond to a host of questions News24 sent to the company.

However, the company responded to the tweet of the viral video, saying it was "most unsettling" and that they were "sympathetic towards the family during this difficult time".

"We can confirm that the claim was paid. Due to the sensitive nature of this matter, we will continue engaging directly with the family."

The company assured customers that claims were "assessed on an individual basis and the incident at this branch, whilst isolated, is regrettable".

"While we make every attempt to settle claims as speedily as possible, this specific claim had to undergo further assessments. Old Mutual strives to pay claims speedily - 99% of funeral claims are paid within eight hours once all requirements are met." 

Read more on:    old mutual  |  durban
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