FSB intervenes in funeral policy 'scam'

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

The owner of the embattled Madadeni Funeral Association (MFA) has denied allegations that his company is involved in a funeral policy scam affecting thousands of pensioners in Newcastle in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

This after concerned MFA members alleged that some members were not paid what was due to them as promised.

The fracas has prompted the Financial Services Board (FSB) to intervene.

Steve Thela, the man accused of "stealing poor people's money" and new MFA chairman, said nothing was wrong and that he had nothing to hide.

"The association was liquidated after the death of the old owner, Patrick Gumede, but we decided to carry on with the policies because people were still paying," Thela said.

He said he was left alone when the people who were chosen to take over Gumede's work distanced themselves from the association.

Last week a group calling themselves the concerned MFA members accused Thela of going against the scheme's agreement and of "stealing from the poor".

Thela said his accusers wanted to drag his name through the "mud and gain popularity". He denied robbing any member of the association.

"It's not true that there are people who have not been paid under our funeral policy," he said. "Our funeral policies are underwritten by Old Mutual and money is being paid out."

Thela said he was not obliged to attend the meeting called by concerned MFA members chairman Edward Mngadi.

He confirmed that he had received a fax from the FSB demanding to know what was happening.

"I'm not scared, everything is transparent here," he said. "We have records of the people we have helped. FSB can send their investigators to meet our members on this matter."

But Mngadi insisted that members had a strong case against Thela.