eMalahleni Crematorium Opens its doors

eMalahleni Crematorium will be opening its doors for business within the next week and filling a huge gap in this sensitive area to the citizens of eMalahleni and Mpumalanga.

The requirement for a local crematorium was identified more than 2 years ago and since then the dream became a reality for Leon Smit, the owner/operator.

Many people still wonder whether it is ethical to be cremated.   Irrespective of race, religion, cultural background this is becoming the norm.   Just as the body decomposes when it is buried, during a cremation the body decomposes, at a much higher rate only.   In case of a burial, precious and scarce land is taken up and a tombstone is erected, all at a high cost.   With a cremation, the remains (ashes) are provided to the family that can do whatever they want to do with that.   You no longer need to maintain a grave in an overcrowded and unmaintained graveyard where robberies and hi-jacking are fast becoming the norm.   You can actually put that person to rest where they want to be – under an evergreen tree, at the top of a mountain, in the garden where the person enjoyed life.   The choice remains yours!

The state of the art facility is situated in the old Pretoria Road Cemetery next to the N4. Close family members are able to view the preparation and cremation from a private viewing room.   Interested parties are more than welcome to get more information on the process and the facility from Leon at the crematorium.

The facility will strive to offer a same day service to ensure that the process is not unnecessarily extended and will try to adhere to all requests.   The management and staff promises to offer you a service with Compassion, dignity and respect.

EMALAHLENI CREMATORIUM

Cremation with

Compassion – Dignity – Respect

Being cremated has become more acceptable for all cultural groups because:

  • It is cheaper than traditional burials.
  • Cremation costs are covered by funeral policies.
  • Family can attend the cremation service / Family viewing room available.
  • It offers a personalised and dignified option in terms of the memorial service and can accommodate any religious ceremony.
  • Cemeteries are full and not maintained.
  • Tombstones are stolen or damaged.

As an associated member of the National Funeral Directors Association the privately owned Emalahleni Crematorium offers:

  • Same day cremations.
  • Collection of remains from undertakers if required.
  • Guaranteed Individual cremations.
  • Remains handled with dignity and respect.
  • Ashes packed and ready for collection within 24 hours.
  • A variety of free caskets for ashes are available.

E-mail: leon@witbankcrematorium.co.zaTel:076 1977 460

Member Matters

  1. By the end of May 2016, 23 more embalmers will have been trained by the NFDA. Remember, if you snooze, you loose.
  1. All members should please take note that the following procedure will be followed if a member has not paid membership fees by the end of May:
  • The member will receive a letter indicating that there is 6 months grace for payment before they will be suspended.
  • At the end of the 6 months the member will be phoned to be informed that they are suspended.
  • A letter of termination of membership will be sent if there is no response or payment within the 6 months.
  • A list of non-payments will then be distributed to the regions.
  • As final step a list of suspended members will be published in the newsletter and members should be advised to check the date and colour on member cards when removing bodies from other parlours.
  1. If a member resigns from the NFDA, Home Affairs will be notified that the member is no longer part of an association. For members to be in good standing they need to pay membership fees on time and attend at least one NFDA meeting per year.
  1. When the Department of Health issues a new CoC for your premises, please submit this to the office.
  1. Please alert the office when you open a new office of purchase a new hearse so that such news can be included in the magazine.

Sanlam defends funeral insurance deductions from grants

Life insurer Sanlam has defended its practice of making funeral policy deductions from social grants, noting these deductions are in line with regulations and that the policies are offered to consenting adults. Social grant deductions are one of several payment mechanisms designed to provide “ease of payment and convenience”, as well as access to financial services to policyholders, notes Jurie Strydom, deputy CEO of Sanlam Personal Finance.

In terms of the Social Assistance Act, funeral policies qualify as the only legal deduction against a social grant, provided they are issued by a registered insurance company and do not exceed 10% of the value of the grant.

Following a “clean-up project” by the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), which administers these grants, to “regularise unlawful funeral premium deductions”, Regulation 26A of the Act was amended earlier this month. In particular, deductions may no longer be made from child support grants, among others, after it emerged during Sassa’s investigations that funeral policies had been sold to the adult recipients of these grants, who were paying for them using grant money intended for the child.

In addition, the beneficiary of the grant must consent to the deduction in writing and submit the consent in person to Sassa or, where such is not possible, make alternative arrangements. The Agency is concerned that written consent obtained by insurance companies from beneficiaries may be fraudulent or ill informed.

Sanlam, however, argues that its policy forms include direct requests from beneficiaries to Sassa that deductions are made. It further argues that Sassa, which holds no financial advice licence, does not have power in terms of any regulations to investigate contracts for funeral insurance taken out by beneficiaries.

While Sanlam says it supports government’s efforts to clean up the grant deductions landscape, it notes in court papers that Sassa has submitted no evidence of complaints from grant beneficiaries that deductions for funeral insurance premiums are unlawful. “The papers are replete with complaints from beneficiaries about unlawful deductions for airtime, loan repayments, electricity and water charges,” Sanlam says. Funeral insurance, on the other hand, offers tremendous social value, Sanlam argues.

The Department of Social Development has recognised the important role that funeral insurance plays in the lives of the majority of grant recipients, according to Sanlam, which cites estimates from the department that poor households can commonly spend more than 15 times their monthly household income on a funeral.

“Funeral insurance enables poor households to provide for funerals in a structured manner that prevents financial ruin in the event of a member passing away. Its social value cannot be doubted,” Sanlam submits in court papers.

Strydom notes that Sanlam respects Sassa’s decision “to withdraw the right of beneficiaries of child grants to make use of deductions from child grants to pay funeral policy premiums”. “The impact of the moratorium on Sanlam’s financial performance is immaterial. Where a policyholder has elected to make use of a social grant deduction, Sanlam does not have access to information on the nature of grant. Sassa has until now not required that a distinction be made between grants that qualify for deduction and those that do not,” Strydom noted. He said that policyholders impacted by the changes would be given an opportunity to make use of alternative payment mechanisms, such as cash and debit orders.

Sanlam is currently engaged in court action with Sassa over the correct implementation of Regulation 26A, which action was recently postponed following the amendment to the regulation.

Sanlam believes that if correctly implemented, Regulation 26A obliges Sassa to make funeral insurance deductions from grants before they are paid into beneficiary bank accounts. This allows permissible deductions to be managed under Sassa’s control, Sanlam argues, removing these deductions from the debit order environment, which is where “defrauding and exploitation of grant beneficiaries occur”, it says.

Government says stop selling insurance to the poorest people!

South Africa’s government said it plans to protect the country’s poorest people by stopping insurers from selling funeral cover to welfare recipients.

The companies that could be impacted include Sanlam, the biggest insurer based in South Africa, and Lion of Africa Assurance Co. They are among companies selling funeral cover that is paid for from welfare grants meant for children. Other companies sometimes draw money from social grants for other services, a practice which is illegal.

The government will replace private schemes with a state-run funeral plan, Minister for Social Development Bathabile Dlamini said in a speech to parliament on Wednesday. “The absence of a funeral benefit has opened our social grant beneficiaries to exploitation by private-insurance companies,” Dlamini said. “The lack of government action to protect them has led to a very loud outcry by our beneficiaries and various civil-society organizations.”

Sanlam and Lion of Africa are both trying to maintain the current system through separate court cases being heard this month. About 16.9 million people are on welfare, more than the number in work. That’s part of the post-apartheid government’s attempt to reduce poverty and narrow inequality in a nation with one of the world’s biggest gaps between rich and poor. About 70% of the grants are for children.

While the government can stop deductions being made before the grants go into a recipients’ account, it will struggle to implement a complete ban on the practice, Lion of Africa CEO Paul Myeza said by phone.  “It doesn’t dramatically change the landscape,” Myeza said. “Those members can buy policies like anyone else. It’s an open market.”

While Lion of Africa won an interdict against a moratorium stopping all new deductions from child grants, Sanlam said it had complied with the measure. Its case, to be heard on May 10, seeks to clarify how a process to clean-up the industry is implemented.

“Sanlam supports the new moratorium and we’ve applied it as of December 1,” Jurie Strydom, the deputy CEO of its Sky division, said by phone on Thursday. “Sanlam is not party to the legal action taken by Lion of Africa Assurance.”

The law currently allows deductions from social grants for a single funeral insurance policy amounting to a maximum of 10% of the grant. Many on welfare complain that there are many deductions being made for funeral cover and other services without them being aware that they signed up for them, according to the government.

Minister Dlamini will on Friday announce new measures to end all deductions from social grants, her spokeswoman Lumka Oliphant said by phone..

Lion of Africa calculations show there’s a risk of between 30% and 156% of a funeral policy payout, because as many as eight people can be covered by a family policy, according to its actuarial head EC du Toit.

© 2016 Bloomberg