South Africa: Family Drag Loved One’s Corpse to Insurance Office over Disputed Claim

family of Sifiso Mtshali

A family from the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa dragged their loved one’s corpse to an insurer’s office after the insurance company refused to pay out their death benefit, the AllAfrica outlet reported on Wednesday.

In a video widely circulating on social media, family members can be seen carrying the body into the building of the Old Mutual insurance company to demand the company pay up.

As they struggle to haul the bagged corpse into the vehicle, one man can be heard asking them why they brought the body along and if their policy was paid.

“They just paid now,” one woman replied. “That’s why we took the body in.”

Old Mutual staff quickly removed the corpse from the premises and refused the family’s attempts to engage. “We take note of this incident and would like to assure our customers that claims are assessed on an individual basis and the incident at this branch whilst isolated is regrettable,” the business said in a statement shortly after the incident.

The response drew an angry backlash from users on social media, who accused the company of a lack of respect and started spreading hashtags such as #ExposeOldMutual. However, they confirmed that the family would be receiving a payout.

“Good evening, this has been most unsettling and we are sympathetic towards the family during this difficult time. We can confirm that the claim was paid,” they wrote. “Due to the sensitive nature of this matter, we will continue engaging directly with the family.”

“While we make every attempt to settle claims as speedily as possible, this specific claim had to undergo further assessments,” they continued. “Old Mutual strives to pay claims speedily – 99% of funeral claims are paid within 8 hours once all requirements are met.”

After the incident took place, Thandaza Mtshali explained to local media that the body was that of her uncle, Sifiso Mtshali, for whom the family had not received money to cover his funeral service.

“I put through a claim on Monday and they told me that it was already after 1 pm and that they would process my claim only the next day, and I understood,” she told Times Live. “They said I would have the money after 48 hours.”

She said she later received a text saying that the payout had to be delayed, without providing an explanation, and that an Old Mutual employee advised her to borrow the money.

“They have never till this day explained what caused the delay. They said all my documents were in order,” she said. “I saw it fit to take the body to them while they were doing their assessment, because that could have taken months. I saw it best for them to figure out where they put the body, as long as they kept it safe and it didn’t rot.”

Mtshali’s aunt, Ntombenhle Mhlongo, told News 24 they had been forced to wait over two weeks for the payout, leaving the family in significant distress.

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

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

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