'The Rose refuses to bury my son'

Sibongile Mashaba and Dudu Busani

Sibongile Mashaba and Dudu Busani

"For the best funeral services in town!" reads a slogan at The Rose Funeral Parlour. But that is not what the customers get from the owner, boxing legend Dingaan Thobela.

Anastacia Mia, 84, from Lawley, is one of The Rose's disappointed customers. The body of her son, Dominic, has been lying in the mortuary for two weeks because she cannot raise the R4985 she was ordered to pay as an additional cost for the funeral.

It was only after Sowetan intervened that Thobela decided to scrap R4130 and told the elderly woman to pay R855 for the grave. She still has not buried her son because she cannot raise that amount.

Thobela blames inflation for the additional costs his clients have to pay before he can bury their loved ones. He said despite notifying them of the increase in their premiums, most of his clients ignored the notices.

"I have urged my customers to come to my office and look at taking new options that will suit them. When I started this business, the grave cost R200, now it costs more than R800," he said.

This is not the first time Thobela's clients have complained of poor service. Last month two families complained that they were told to pay thousands of rands before their relatives could be buried.

The Soweto Funeral Undertakers Association (Sofua) has urged people to stop paying their monthly premiums to The Rose and instead join other parlours.

Sofua chairman Jacob Motsepe said: "Thobela is making money at our expense. We cannot allow him to continue operating, and the only way we can stop him is by telling people to stop paying their monthly premiums.

"He refuses to join the association but we always step in to help families he refuses to assist."

Motsepe said the association had spoken to Thobela and he had agreed not to charge additional fees to his clients. But he did not keep his promise.

"He did not even explain to us what the money was for," said Motsepe.

The association delivered a letter to Thobela's Midway offices instructing him to bury Mia.

After receiving the letter, Thobela's brother, Siphiwe, said: "The least I can do is cancel R4130 that the family was ordered to pay for administration and service fees."