Orphans say bank won't pay policy

Thuli Zungu Consumer Line
Consumers must ensure they buy their funeral cover from a registered provider backed by a registered insurer.
Consumers must ensure they buy their funeral cover from a registered provider backed by a registered insurer.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

The Machaba orphans had been hoping they would be able to keep the wolves at bay when they discovered their uncle had an insurance of R644000 he bought from Standard Bank a month before his death.

Though the bank has not disputed the validity of the cover, it has not honoured the claim in the past seven months.

Tshepo Machaba, 27, of Mamelodi claims he was nominated by his late uncle as a beneficiary of his life cover in December.

Machaba says when he died, his uncle, Silo Machaba, was alone in the house and a gas cylinder exploded and burnt him. He died three days later in hospital.

"During funeral preparations we discovered he had a policy with Standard Bank in which I was appointed as a beneficiary," Machaba said.

He said Standard Bank did not pay death benefits and he was only able to bury his uncle with the help of relatives and neighbours.

"Every time I called to inquire about my payment I was told to stop calling, they would call me," said Machaba.

He said reporting this to the Long-Term Insurance Ombudsman did not help as they also told him there is no need to keep calling their office as they were busy with investigations.

"My uncle's death was accidental. What confuses me is that they have not rejected the claim except that they are just not paying," he said.

He said his uncle had supported him and his sisters, aged 16 and 18.

They could not claim any death benefits from his uncle's place of employment as they were told the death claim belonged to the state as he had no children and they were not his children.

His uncle had worked for the Tshwane Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), which gives unemployed people temporary work, Machaba said.

He said his uncle had been employed for a period of five years and this had enabled him to learn new skills.

"What pains me more than anything is that we had to bury our beloved uncle without a blanket because we didn't have money to buy him one," Machaba said

He said he and his sisters were now struggling.

"We are grateful to our aunt, who now and then sends us mielie meal and vegetables, and at times we feel she is going overboard as she is also a single mother who is taking care of her own three children," he said.

Lebogang Masooa of the City of Tshwane said the late Machaba was an EPWP Vat Alles contract worker.

He said all its participants did not contribute to any pension fund scheme due to the nature of the projects and the low stipend the participants were getting on a monthly basis.

However, he said Machaba's spouse and children who were below the age of 18 could claim from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

If his children are above 18 but still going to school they are entitled to his contributions to the unemployment fund.

Also, if the children are over the age of 18 and are still learners they can also claim from the department of labour, Masooa said.

Inga Sebata of Magna Carta, which offers PR services for Standard Bank, offered a response which was not relevant to the current complaint.

She said the Ombuds dealt with the matter in 2005 regarding the shortfall that the customer is liable for and the Ombudsman had ruled in
favour of the bank.

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