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A teacher and a funeral parlour owner, allegedly running a scam claiming money from insurance companies using bodies from the funeral parlour, were arrested this week when a police officer found out she was one of the “dead”.
The teacher, 35, from eSikhawini, near Richards Bay, and the funeral parlour owner, 37, were arrested on Thursday and charged with fraud and money laundering amounting to R1.5 million after a police officer found out that she had been certified dead.
Both suspects will appear in the Durban Commercial Court on Monday, said police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge.
The police arrested them after a three-month, intensive investigation by Captain Muzi Buthelezi and Lieutenant Paul Mabhida of the Durban Commercial Crime revealed they had allegedly been working the scam for years.
The investigation, said Mdunge, was launched after the officer from KwaMsane, near Mtubatuba, who did not wish to be named, found out at a Home Affairs office that she had been certified dead.
“This came as a shock to her and she decided to open a case immediately. Captain Buthelezi was tasked to investigate the matter, and was confronted by these alarming revelations,” said Mdunge.
The investigation, said Mdunge, had revealed that many other unsuspecting people had been declared dead.
Explaining the methods used, Mdunge said the teacher allegedly stole peoples’ ID books and took funeral policies in their names.
She would wait for eight months and then claim from the insurance company, saying the person had died of natural causes.
She would do this in collaboration with the funeral parlour owner whose role was to release a body of the same age as the one insured by the teacher from his mortuary.
“The body would be taken to an unsuspecting doctor who would certify the person as having died of natural causes,” said Mdunge.
After substantial evidence the police pounced on the teacher at her eSikhawini home early on Thursday morning just before she left for work. They then went to the Greytown Magistrate’s Court where they arrested the funeral parlour owner who was appearing on similar charges but in a different case.
During the operation, the police also raided the offices of the funeral parlour, seizing death notification forms, ID copies and policy documents belonging to different people.
“Police investigations also revealed that the claims were lodged with different insurance companies and the total amount of the fraud committed is over R1.5 million,” said Mdunge, adding that investigations would continue. - Independent on Saturday