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Unregistered funeral parlour vanishes

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line
Many people are being misled into buying burial policies from unregistered funeral parlours. /ALAN EASON
Many people are being misled into buying burial policies from unregistered funeral parlours. /ALAN EASON

Consumers continue to be misled and lose money as a result of buying funeral policies from unregistered companies.

Though the Financial Services Board (FSB) has been taking action against unregistered companies this practice continues unabated.

A Diepsloot family is worried they might not be able to bury their beloved family members should death strike because their funeral parlour of 10 years has vanished.

Palesa Mthembu, 27, said her grandmother, Tozi, bought a burial cover from Lalakahle Funeral Parlour in 2007 and paid a monthly premium of R170. When she increased the number of beneficiaries her premium rose to R500.

Mthembu said her granny put all her grandchildren in one policy while her unemployed mother added nine more beneficiaries.

Mthembu's worry is that they have not paid their monthly premiums since February because the owner of Lalakahle, Mandla Sibiya, moved their offices to an unknown location.

Alarm bells were further raised when she could not find the underwriters of the policy, and now is concerned whether the beneficiaries would get payout benefits when they claim.

"This man is making it difficult for us to pay our premiums. Our policy could lapse because nonpayment will result in the cancellation of the policy," she said.

Her sister Zanele, who was employed by Sibiya until September, said: "People always complained that they were not paid their R1000 vouchers. Though he promised to sort it out, he never did." Sibiya denied that he had vanished.

He said he had a fallout with the landlord of the property he was operating from. Sibiya said he had notified all policyholders of the situation, noting that they were told no one would be in arrears for April and May as a result of nonpayment of premiums.

"During our predicament we have managed to help two of our clients who lost their loved ones," said Sibiya.

"So how would we have serviced them if we had run away? Gogo Mthembu's policy is still active, but her [Palesa] mother's policy lapsed last year; she stopped paying in November."

Sibiya said he regretted the panic caused as a result of relocating the business to Diepsloot Extension 4. He, however, failed to provide the full address.

Jabhile Mbele, senior official at FSB, said Sibiya's company was not a registered member. The FSB said they would investigate Lalakahle for rendering financial services without authorisation.

Sibiya, however, could not confirm to Consumer Line whether his company was registered with the FSB.

When buying a funeral policy check with the FSB if the service provider is authorised to do so.

You should also check if it is a member of a parlours association which ensures that members function within the regulatory framework.

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