File picture: Fernando Vergara/AP
Durban – A grieving, cash-strapped Chatsworth man last Tuesday allegedly tried to arrange the funerals of his wife, two children and a relative – even ordering 500 white roses – although they were alive.

But it turned out to be a ruse and he ended up dousing himself with petrol later that day and had to be talked out of setting himself alight.

The man, whom it is believed might have contemplated killing his family and himself, went as far as choosing four caskets.

According to a well-placed source, the funeral parlour and the florist, offered to conduct the funerals and provide the flowers at no cost as they had believed the man’s story.

But they became concerned when he did not confirm a date and time for the delivery and proceedings.

“He told staff at the funeral parlour that his family and a relative had died in an accident and he did not have the money to pay for the funerals and needed help.

“Whenever there is a tragic incident, the funeral parlour concerned assists the grieving family by not charging a fee. The man then picked out the four caskets and said he was going to later provide them with the date and time of the funerals.”

The man then went to a nearby florist and ordered the roses.

When the funeral parlour employees did not hear from him the following day, they tried calling him.

The person who answered his cellphone had informed the staff that the man’s family was still alive and that he had tried to commit suicide the day before by dousing himself in petrol.

“The man had allegedly poured petrol all over himself and his car and tied himself to the vehicle. He was about to set himself alight but a pastor, who was called to the home, managed to talk him out of it. He was hospitalised and has since been discharged. Our theory is that the man contemplated killing his wife and two children before committing suicide.

“The fourth casket could have been for him.”

It is believed that after being hospitalised, the man returned home and is receiving counselling.

An employee at the funeral parlour confirmed the incident.

“When I found out he lied about something that important, I couldn’t believe it. Nothing like this has ever happened. When he came here, he looked like a man who was grieving and we felt sorry for him. I really hope he gets help.”

The family and the pastor declined to comment. Chatsworth police were called to the scene but no case was opened.

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