laid to rest

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

The Soweto Funeral Association has stepped in and will bury Alfred Lebakeng after famed former world boxing champ Dingaan Thobela's undertakers refused to bury him.

The Rose Funeral Undertakers refused to bury Lebakeng, of Chiawelo, Soweto, last week and instead demanded R4000 before the burial could take place.

Lebakeng's brother, Jacobus has been a member of The Rose funeral scheme since 1998 with fully paid premiums and has not claimed before.

Lebakeng was burnt to death in his sleep last month after his bedroom caught fire.

Last week Sowetan published the story about the Lebakeng family's dilemma.

Other undertakers under Soweto Funeral Association (Sofua) came together and took over the burial.

They met with the family on Friday to iron out the details.

Lebakeng's friend, Pepe Mogapi, asked the Gauteng Funeral Practitioners' Association (GFPA) for help.

The GFPA then contacted Sofua to assist the Lebakeng family.

Sofua general secretary Reverend Robert Marks apologised to the family.

"We apologise for what has happened. What Thobela did to you was wrong. As an association we are sorry about that," Marks said.

Sofua chairman Jacob Motsepe called Thobela, who is allegedly never at his business premises, and told him to release Lebakeng's body to the association.

The association has arranged for the funeral to take place on Wednesday.

"All I want is my brother to be laid to rest," Jacobus said.

"What Thobela did to us was wrong. I will leave everything in God's hands."

The GFPA and Sofua said they will take action against The Rose funeral parlour for malpractice.

Motsepe said Thobela was warned at the association's meeting last month not to charge people extra on funeral cover.

"We have been receiving complaints about Thobela's business practices from the community," he said.

"We told him to stop charging his clients extra but it seems he did not listen to us."

Motsepe said Thobela told them that his clients were given letters informing them about the charges.

GFPA chairman Sam Leshabane said: "We as associations answer to the Financial Services Board, we have to follow its rules and regulations.

"His practices are against the rules of the FSB, and we cannot let this continue."

Leshabane said that last month a group of about 80 people tried to march to Thobela's offices in Lenasia to complain.

"I was called to address them, but unfortunately, because the march was illegal, the police stopped them from proceeding to The Rose offices," he said.

When the association officials went to the Lenasia offices to collect Lebakeng's body, they were met by more angry clients at The Rose offices.

The clients said they were told to sign documents and were then given brochures that said the monthly premiums had been increased from R100 to R200, starting from the end of this month.

Some had come to ask why they were charged thousands of rands before burial, but did not get clear answers from employees behind the counters.

The R4000 charged to the Lebakeng family was noted as "sundry charge" and "private doctor fees".

Luke Tlholoe, deputy chairman of GFPA, said that no client should pay for doctors' fees because that is done by a state hospital and is free.

He said: "I advise people to ask questions and have everything put in writing.

"They must understand and know their benefits and be sure that the undertaker is underwritten and registered."