KZN Trio Used “Loaned” Corpse in Fraudulent Insurance Claim – Police

Three people are expected to appear in the Durban Commercial Crime Court on Monday for alleged insurance fraud involving a “loaned” corpse, the Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal said on Wednesday.

The three, aged between 38 and 52, appeared in the court on May 25, where they were each granted R5 000 bail and their case was postponed, spokesperson Lieutenant Simphiwe Mhlongo said. According to an SABC report, the alleged multi-million-rand fraud syndicate involved a private security company. Two of the three suspects are a security guard and a funeral parlour employee.

The matter came to light when an insurance company approached police with suspicions about a claim. They determined that a 40-year-old woman had lodged a life insurance claim for her uncle. She was the main beneficiary of the policy.  Police apparently discovered that the uncle had died years earlier, but that Home Affairs had no record of it.

The woman allegedly colluded with a funeral parlour, which “loaned” her a corpse that matched her uncle. A doctor allegedly certified that the person had died from natural causes.

Source – NEWS24

Service SETA Training

A special committee has been set up by the Service SETA, made up of four NFDA, four SAFPA and two IFDA members.  This committee will meet once a quarter to assist with training-related activities such as evaluating learning materials, determining training needs in the industry, ensuring training of assessors and moderators, and providing input for the development of a new qualification.

Service SETA put out a tender in December 2015 for a project manager to oversee training in the industry, and this committee will work closely with the company that has been awarded the tender.

In the meantime two training providers have been accredited by the SETA, and will soon start with training and RPL.  These are Nomatye Funeral Services from East London with Ms Daphne Mbewana as manager, and ATTI (Advanced Technology Training Institute) from Nelspruit. More provider accreditation is in the pipeline, so things are going to start happening in the training arena.  Get ready or prepare your staff to soon obtain much needed and long overdue qualifications.

Genes Get Active After Death – New Scientist

 

When a doctor declares a person dead, some of their body may still be alive and kicking – at least for a day or two. New evidence in animals suggests that many genes go on working for up to 48 hours after the lights have gone out.

This hustle and bustle has been seen in mice and zebrafish, but there are hints that genes are also active for some time in deceased humans. This discovery could have implications for the safety of organ transplants, and can also help pathologists pinpoint a time of death more precisely, perhaps to within minutes of the event.

Peter Noble and Alex Pozhitkov at the University of Washington, Seattle, and their colleagues investigated the activity of genes in the organs of mice and zebrafish immediately after death. They did this by measuring the amount of messenger RNA present. An increase in this mRNA – which genes use to tell cells to make products such as proteins – indicates that genes are more active.

Noble’s team measured mRNA levels in zebrafish, and in brain and liver samples from mice at regular intervals for up to four days after death. They then compared these with mRNA levels measured at the time of death.

“Hundreds of genes with different functions woke up after death, including fetal development genes”

As you might expect, overall mRNA levels decreased over time. However, mRNA associated with 548 zebrafish genes and 515 mouse genes saw one or more peaks of activity after death. This meant there was sufficient energy and cellular function for some genes to be switched on and stay active long after the animal died.

These genes cycled through peaks and dips in activity in a “non-winding down” manner, unlike the chaotic behaviour of the rest of the decaying DNA, says Noble.

Hundreds of genes with different functions “woke up” immediately after death. These included fetal development genes that usually turn off after birth, as well as genes that have previously been associated with cancer. Their activity peaked about 24 hours after death.

A similar process might occur in humans. Previous studies have shown that various genes, including those involved in contracting heart muscle and wound healing, were active more than 12 hours after death in humans who had died from multiple trauma, heart attack or suffocation (Forensic Science International, doi.org/bj63).

The fact that some genes associated with cancer are activated after death in animals, might be relevant for reducing the incidence of cancer in people who receive organ transplants, says Noble. People who get a new liver, for example, have more cancers after the treatment than you would expect if they hadn’t had a transplant. The regime of drugs they need to take for life to suppress their immune system so it doesn’t attack the new organ may contribute to this, but Noble says it is worth investigating if activated cancer genes in the donor liver could play a part.

So why do so many genes wake up after death? It is possible that many of the genes become active as part of physiological processes that aid healing or resuscitation after severe injury. For example, after death, some cells might have enough energy to kick-start genes involved in the inflammation process to protect against damage – just as they would if the body were alive.

Alternatively, a rapid decay of genes that normally suppress other genes – such as those involved in embryological development – might allow the usually quiet genes to become active for a short period of time.

For forensic scientists, knowing how gene activity rises and falls at different time points after death is useful for working out when someone died. Measuring mRNA would allow us to nail down the time since death to hours and possibly even minutes, rather than days, helping to reconstruct events surrounding the death.

It is good to see such progress being made in this area, says Graham Williams, consultant forensic geneticist at the University of Huddersfield, UK. “But substantial work is required before this could be applied to case work.”

The research also raises important questions about our definition of death – normally accepted as the cessation of a heartbeat, brain activity and breathing. If genes can be active up to 48 hours

Watch Out For Burn Out!

Constant calls, 14 hour days, funeral arrangements, comforting grieving families, graveside services—the list goes on. As a funeral director, your week is busy and unpredictable. And nowadays it has become vital that you manage your online presence, too.

The role of a funeral director isn’t an easy one. When most of your job revolves around helping others, it can be easy to forget to help yourself. Don’t let the stress of the job burn you out.

Forbes recently listed event coordinator as the 5th most stressful job in 2016. Funeral directors often draw comparisons to event coordinators. Funeral directors essentially are event coordinators—with a handful of other tasks and half the time to plan. On top of everything else, a funeral director is a pillar of support to grieving families. To say the job is stressful would be an understatement.

Stress can take a real toll over time. Not only does it affect your productivity, it will eventually cause physical ailments. Job stress can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular problems. The American Psychological Association found that “burnout—defined as persistent emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue and cognitive weariness—may negatively affect workers’ physical health more than previously believed.”

Let’s look at some tips you can use to counter the stress.

Physical health

This is probably the first area to shows signs of stress. The good news: it’s also the easiest to remedy.

Questions to ask yourself: How are you sleeping at night? Are you always feeling sluggish or tired? Do you have any tension in your body? Do you feel achy?

Make sure to devote time to physical activities whenever possible. A little physical activity can boost your mood. Try to make it a daily routine.

Some tips:

  • Join a gym
    • Sign up for a fitness class, or find a partner to exercise with
  • Go for a run or walk each day
  • Take the stairs if possible
  • Get a massage
  • Maintain a healthy diet / Eat home-cooked meals
  • Start a personal garden, or join a community garden

Try to get a daily routine going. Anything that gets you up and moving for 30 minutes a day can help reduce the effects of stress on your body. Incorporate new activities into your life.

Mental Health

It’s a little easier to focus on physical health. Keeping an eye on your own mental well-being is trickier, but just as important. Job stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and poor decision making.

Questions to ask yourself: Are you constantly forgetting things? Do you feel like your thoughts aren’t clear? How are your relationships with your friends/family? How do you process and deal with your emotions? How often are you taking time off? How many hours do you work a week?

Try keeping a journal of your thoughts. Studies have shown that writing will improve your emotional health. It can help you identify and express your emotions better.

Some Tips:

  • Take a “me” day to reset yourself
  • Get outside and into the sun
  • Get a pet, or a plant
  • Force yourself to have leisure time
  • Set time aside to meet with friends and family
  • Volunteer
  • Write a weekly list of what you are thankful for
  • Try learning a new activity

At the end of the day, you’re the one that knows you best. Make sure to stop and treat yourself.