South Africa: 'Borrowed corpse scam' leads to arrests

A coffin in South Africa (28 October 2012) Two funeral parlours became involved in the attempt to pull off the insurance claim

Related Stories

Two people have been arrested in South Africa for "borrowing" a corpse as part of an elaborate life insurance scam, police have said.

A police spokesman said a woman in Durban had created a fake identity and paid towards insurance policies.

A funeral parlour owner then had someone else's corpse certified dead under the fictitious name, to help the life insurance claim, police said.

The pair have been charged with fraud, spokesman Col Vincent Mdunge said.

The arrested woman, 35, first made a birth certificate in the name of Aphiwe Ntombela, the police spokesman said.

She then took out life insurance policies with three companies in Ntombela's name, and made monthly payments, Col Mdunge said.

"When the policies [worth about $11,000; £6,800] were ready for claiming, she had a dilemma because she had to kill a person who did not exist," he said.

She turned to a funeral parlour owner in uMlazi - the biggest residential area in Durban - for help, he said.

She asked "to borrow" a female body from his mortuary "so that the body could be presented to the doctor for certification of death", the police spokesman said.

The funeral parlour owner, 42, then took a body to another mortuary in the city, presenting it as Aphiwe Ntombela.

"The doctor saw the body and certified it as deceased," Mr Mdunge said.

The woman then used the death certificate to lodge fraudulent insurance claims.

Meanwhile, the funeral parlour owner returned to the mortuary to fetch the body, so that she could be buried by her family.

But the police were waiting for him after receiving a tip-off, Mr Mdunge said.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.