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MEC 'fed up' with burial funds milking the poor

By unknown | Sep 19, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for social development Meshack Radebe is spitting mad after Cornerstone Burial Scheme allegedly refused to bury the grandmother of a poverty-stricken family.

Bavumile Ntuli's body has been lying in the mortuary for the past three weeks while her destitute family is at loggerheads with the burial scheme company.

Ntuli, of Mpola near Mariannhill, Pinetown, died on August 27.

She had been paying regular monthly premiums to the Cornerstone since receiving a disability grant in her early 40s.

Cornerstone allegedly refused to process the family's claim because the listed beneficiary, Ntuli's daughter, could not be traced to collect the money.

The family said Ntuli's daughter disappeared 10 years ago.

They said Cornerstone dismissed them when they tried to explain the situation.

After Sowetan published a report about the family's plight yesterday. Radebe has promised to crack down on all schemes canvassing pensioners at pay points.

Radebe, whose department has promised to help the family with the burial, said it was not the first time that his department had come to the aid pensioners who had been saving for a dignified funeral but ended up not getting it.

He said these (burial) schemes usually took advantage of the elderly and would often lure them into buying policies without explaining all the pros and cons of the product on offer.

"I'm now completely fed up with these companies that make millions of rands out of unsuspecting poor people," he said.

"I receive complaints about Cornerstone Burial Scheme almost every day.

"I wonder what kind of human being enjoys seeing distressed families suffer like this?"

Radebe said it was high time that the government stepped in to protect poor people who are being milked by the companies that sell and tout funeral policies.

He said his department was finalising draft legislation to deal with the exploitation of pensioners by funeral and burial schemes.

"We will introduce strict laws to protect our people from unscrupulous companies," Radebe said. "Once the draft is completed it will be taken to the people for their input.

"We're even prepared to go to the highest court in the land to protect our people."

Family spokesman Thembisile Mngadi thanked Sowetan and Radebe for the intervention.

"We're now going to give my sister a dignified burial on Saturday," Mngadi said. "She joined Cornerstone while she was in her early 40s and continued until well into her old age."


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