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

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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.

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