When insurance company Old Mutual refused to pay out on the death of a loved one in South Africa, insisting on more proof, the victim’s family complied – and brought the corpse into their offices in Stanger, in a body bag.
The incredible footage (see below) was shot in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) after two bereaved female relatives pulled up outside the front door, having collected the man’s body from a mortuary and put it in the boot.
The man in the body bag has been revealed to be a father of 38 children, Sifiso Justice Mhlongo.
His niece Thandaza Mtshali and her aunt Thobeka Mhlongo said they decided to take his body from the mortuary after becoming sick and tired of the “to and fro” and need for “additional assessments” to prove the insurance claim.
To the horror of staff inside the Old Mutual branch, the grieving women marched up to the counter carrying the body bag.
They laid it down on the floor and handed over the paperwork for his life insurance claim, as well as his ID and death certificate, and told staff to check inside the body bag for themselves.
Eye witnesses said the ladies told staff they would not leave the branch until the Old Mutual paid out the death claim in full.
After hurried discussions between flabbergasted Old Mutual management and phone calls to head office it was decided to agree to honour the insurance claim – as long as the ladies removed the dead body.
Mhlongo died on 7 November at the age of just 46 after collapsing outside a medical clinic, after being assaulted in a bar.
Thandaza said Sifiso went to a police station to report the attack, and then had a seizure and walked to the medical centre. He was waiting outside in the rain for treatment… when he eventually collapsed, and died inside the clinic.
Thandaza told The Mercury that when the branch finally said they had “paid the money into our bank account”, the women “wanted to be sure so we left the body at their office and went to check at the bank.
“When we went there we withdrew the money, then went and fetched the body and went home.”
The witness said when the women returned “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 manoeuvre 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.
“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 said.
One of the ladies is heard on the footage being asked why they brought the body from the mortuary and if they had been paid out and she replied: “Yes. They paid just now. That’s why we took the body in.”
The deceased man has now been interred on a family burial plot at their home near Stanger.
WATCH VIDEO: Family bring relative in body bag as proof for insurance claim
[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
Responding to the viral video on Twitter, Old Mutual said that the incident was “most unsettling” and they insisted that they were “sympathetic towards the family during this difficult time”.
Insisting 99% of claims were quickly paid the company added: “We can confirm that this claim was paid. Due to the sensitive nature of this matter we will continue engaging directly with the family.”
The company insisted all claims were assessed on an individual basis and said that the incident at the branch was “isolated and regrettable” and would be fully investigated to “learn lessons”.
A spokesman for the National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA said that the matter was far from over and that the organisation would consider taking legal action against Old Mutual.
Spokesman Muzi Hlengwa said: “When the body was taken from the mortuary to the Old Mutual it was out of anger so the rituals that were supposed to be done to move the body from one place to another were not done.
“The soul of that man is still left at the Old Mutual so they will have to cover the costs of performing these rituals.”
Some say the payout now is too little too late and customers have threatened to leave. According to several social media users, this is not the first time somebody has battled to get Old Mutual to honour an insurance claim following the death of a loved one.
One man – Z Tshabangu – said he has been staging a sit-in at Old Mutual’s Sandton office, protesting because they have still not paid out on a 33-year-old policy for his mother.
Old Mutual employs 31,000 people and operates in 14 African countries, is listed on the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges and has over 12 million customers on its books.