The Rose funeral undertakers 'take loyal clients for a ride'
All that Jacobus Lebakeng wanted was to give his brother a decent burial yesterday.
Alfred Lebakeng of Chiawelo, Soweto, was burnt to death after his bedroom caught fire while he was asleep in his home last month.
But the undertaker that Jacobus had been paying for years refused to bury Alfred yesterday.
The family said that Rose Funeral Undertakers demanded R5800 before they would conduct the burial.
The funeral business belongs to former world boxing champion Dingaan "The Rose of Soweto" Thobela.
Lebakeng is a partially blind pensioner.
He showed Sowetan receipts that his monthly payments were up to date.
He has been paying since 1998 and has not skipped a monthly payment.
The premiums add up to R12000, excluding interest.
"Why would they demand money now when they are supposed to bury my brother as stipulated in the contract?" Lebakeng asked.
He said the undertaker told them the money was for a "private doctor's services" and for the grave at the cemetery.
When Sowetan visited the undertaker' offices in Lenasia, several clients were also there complaining about similar problems.
Aaron Mothusi of Orlando East said he was told to pay R4000 which included an administration fee and other services before the burial took place. His family was preparing to bury a relative on Saturday.
"I came here today to hear from them why I am being charged more on top of the premiums, but so far none of the reasons make any sense," Mothusi said.
He said he was considering legal action against The Rose.
Owner Dingaan Thobela said that there was nothing he could do for them unless they paid the money.
When asked why he did not inform his clients in time about the increased costs for services, he said they knew all along about the increases.
New clients seen signing up were seemingly unaware of the hidden costs that come along with The Rose funeral contract.
Sowetan requested that the undertaker cancel the contract and refund the Lebakeng family.
Lillian Dlamini, an employee at the office, said it was impossible to cancel the contract as it was binding on the client.
Back in Chiawelo, friends and relatives had travelled from far to attend the funeral.
"We are all pensioners and could only afford mielie meal and tripe for the mourners," Lebakeng said.
Mourners said they did not care about food but were concerned that Alfred's funeral was not going well.
Last month, award-winning poet and social activist Don Mattera lashed out at The Rose undertakers and labelled them "crooks" after they refused to bury his brother-in-law.
Mattera said the family had to pay another undertaker to bury his brother-in-law John du Plessis after The Rose refused to honour a policy the family has had with them for the past eight years.