Over a week after the death, the family was unable to complete important tribal rites. This was the step they took to ensure that their claims were paid in full as soon as possible.
A grieving family in South Africa was forced to bring their uncle's corpse into the office building of an insurance firm after they were reportedly denied their claim. The bereaved relatives were filmed physically dragging in their loved one's lifeless body into the office and confronting the firm's staff with the corpse. The disturbing incident which occurred at a branch office of Old Mutual in KwaZulu-Natal province, left Twitter users stunned after the video went viral. While it was an incredibly drastic step to take, the family stated that they had no other option.
By the time Sifiso Mtshali’s relatives had dumped his body at Old Mutual’s KwaDukuza offices last Friday afternoon, the insurer had already paid the funeral policy. https://t.co/7Vh8jlT5wy— Times LIVE (@TimesLIVE) November 21, 2019
According to Daily Mail, Ntombenhle Mhlongo and Thandaza Mtshali were unable to complete important tribal rites for their uncle even nine days after his death since the insurance firm kept delaying their claim. Mhlongo revealed that their claim for £1,700 ($2,190) was delayed for over a week because of problems over the paperwork. "We are not rich people. We are poor and they were refusing to pay us. We are still so heartbroken. We kept going back but they kept stonewalling and we were angry, frustrated and just wanted to make sure we could properly prepare and bury him. We thought if the documents do not give them enough answers then maybe the body will," she said.
The video began circulating online earlier this week and it shows the woman inside the office with their uncle's corpse in a body bag. Witnesses at the scene revealed that the staff was horrified as they watched Mhlongo and Mtshali carried the body inside. They then handed over paperwork for the man's life insurance claim along with his ID and death certificate to staff. The women reportedly informed the staff that wouldn't leave the branch until Old Mutual paid out the death claim in full.
Following hurried discussions between Old Mutual management and phone calls to the head office, the staff told the women that they would honor the insurance claim if they promised to remove the corpse from the premises. "As soon as the ladies were promised they would be paid they marched back inside the office and in front of the counter grabbed an end each and carried the corpse back out. Two men went to their aid and helped them maneuver the body bag into the boot of the car that they brought the body in and people were just watching open-mouthed as all this was played out," said a witness.
[EXPOSE OLD MUTUAL] Family bring their dead family member after @OldMutualSA refused to pay their policy benefit. Old Mutual’s arrogance is stinking now. What a shame! May the soul of the poor person Rest In Peace. Plz Retweet. pic.twitter.com/Gk2QFQWkoM— White Man Confession (@ConfessionWhite) November 19, 2019
"The women said a loved one was inside the body bag and that bringing him to the Old Mutual office seemed to be the only way to prove their claim to them that he had actually passed away," he added. Old Mutual sent out an apology on Twitter after the incident went viral online, writing, "Good evening, this has been most unsettling and we are sympathetic towards the family during this difficult time. We can confirm that the claim was paid. Due to the sensitive nature of this matter, we will continue engaging directly with the family."
Good evening, this has been most unsettling and we are sympathetic towards the family during this difficult time. We can confirm that the claim was paid. Due to the sensitive nature of this matter, we will continue engaging directly with the family.— Old Mutual SA (@OldMutualSA) November 19, 2019
"We take note of this incident and would like to assure our customers that claims are assessed on an individual basis and the incident at this branch whilst isolated is regrettable. While we make every attempt to settle claims as speedily as possible, this specific claim had to undergo further assessments. Old Mutual strives to pay claims speedily - 99% of funeral claims are paid within 8 hours once all requirements are met," the company stated. The apology, however, could not calm angry netizens who vowed to cancel their policies with the firm.
But why you disrespect people like this. 🤦🏿♀️ I’m so disappointed in you old mutual. I need to re evaluation my relationship with you I can’t trust you anymore— Zanele (@Zanele71505238) November 19, 2019
I’m canceling my policy first thing tomorrow, I don’t have close family to carry my corpse to your offices. I need to know when I depart I shall Rest In Peace & this is not it.— Mthembinator (@ThembaFax) November 19, 2019
Old Mutual later issued an official statement about the incident, in which the MD of Old Mutual Mass and Foundation Cluster, Clarence Nethengwe, said, "The claim was not delayed because Old Mutual doubted that a death had occurred. It was delayed because it was referred for further individual assessment. The settlement and payment of the claim was already in progress and was not expedited by the regrettable event that took place at the branch. Although every attempt was made to settle the claim as speedily as possible, we are deeply sorry for the delay. We are committed to doing better and we will be taking steps to accelerate and improve the way we verify those claims that need to be assessed further. Old Mutual will also continue to engage the family and provide any necessary support."