Pensioners on Sassa grants told they'll pay 'Covid-19 burial fee'

For the past three years, an elderly couple has been paying combined monthly premiums of over R300 for a funeral policy with Rand Funerals in Actonville in Ekurhuleni. But they did not expect the coronavirus outbreak would mean raising an additional R1,000 "Covid-19 burial fee", in the event one of them died. With each solely relying on a R2,000 monthly South African Social Security Agency grant, mainly spent on groceries, rent, transport and other essentials, the couple, who did not wish to be identified, on Wednesday told of their shock when the undertaker informed them recently of the added "Covid-19...
For the past three years, an elderly couple has been paying combined monthly premiums of over R300 for a funeral policy with Rand Funerals in Actonville in Ekurhuleni. But they did not expect the coronavirus outbreak would mean raising an additional R1,000 "Covid-19 burial fee", in the event one of them died.

With each solely relying on a R2,000 monthly South African Social Security Agency grant, mainly spent on groceries, rent, transport and other essentials, the couple, who did not wish to be identified, on Wednesday told of their shock when the undertaker informed them recently of the added "Covid-19 burial fee" in the event of death.

A Rand Funerals receptionist confirmed clients were charged a R1,000 "Covid-19 burial fee, to cover items such as personal protective equipment (PPE).

"Looking at the current economic climate, this additional fee spells more future hardship for the family in the event myself or my wife dies, with the fees expected to go up to R5,000 the year the death strikes.

"While paying monthly premiums without fail, we ask ourselves what the use of having a funeral policy is if we still have to fork out R1,000, as pensioners. "Why is it that other funeral companies do not have this fee?" the couple asked. Funeral Industry Reformed Association (Fira) chair Johan Rousseau said it was "a ridiculous fee".

He added: "Thank heavens, they are not our members. If any of our 1,500 members transgressed policy, we would not hesitate to take disciplinary action.

"Undertakers provide PPE for free during Covid-19, without extra costs being incurred by clients. Fira believes PPE has become a money-making scheme. If you look at the profit margins, with people having to pay extra fees, this is ridiculous, because when one dies, the other has to scout for R1,000 from loan sharks."

He advised families to use accredited undertakers to avoid being charged up to R6,000 for PPE by "unscrupulous operators". Most undertakers The Citizen spoke to said they did not charge an extra PPE fee for burial.

brians@citizen.co.za

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