Burying a loved one is difficult at the best of times.
Add a dodgy funeral scheme to the mix and that heartache and stress is made even greater.
For six Molepolole women, this pain became all too real after Shegotja Molelo Society failed to pay out on their policies.
Angry and disappointed, the ladies contacted The Voice last Friday accusing the burial society’s Molepolole Branch of ‘robbing them blind’.
With emotions running high, the women, some of whom lost their loved ones over four years ago, say they are yet to receive a single Thebe from the society despite being fully paid-up members.
Narrating their displeasure, the ladies revealed the Molepolole outlet – one of 27 Shegotja Molelo branches in Botswana – was founded in 2014.
62-year-old Sinah Motlhabi signed-up soon after.
“I paid P100 joining fee, P120 annual membership and monthly P50 contributions. The agreement was that I would receive P20,000 should my husband die, while I was covered for P32,000,” explained the widow.
The monthly fees were later increased to P75, rising to P100 last year.
In March 2020, Motlhabi’s world came crashing cruelly down.
She received the devastating news that her husband, Erry Motlhabi, 67, had passed away in South Africa where he worked.
When the grieving woman informed the burial society, she was instructed to submit the receipt for her last monthly payment as well as Erry’s death certificate – instructions she says she duly followed.
Two days later, she was given further directives from Molepolole Branch Chairperson, Gaatshole Mosesane, to submit her husband’s passport to confirm he was indeed a Motswana. Again, Motlhabi did as she was told.
“I buried my husband. After a week, I requested certain elders to assist me and they called upon our Chairperson, who confirmed that I wasn’t owing. She said only Letlhakeng [Molepolole Branch headquarters] office could explain the delay. In July, I went to complain at the MP’s office and when they were called they claimed they were still investigating my issue. Till now, no resolution,” grumbled Motlhabi, adding she stopped her monthly contributions last year April.
Another member, 72-year-old Gofaone Mmatli, tells a similar tale of on-going frustration.
The old lady’s mother passed away in 2017. When she enquired about payment, she was told her elderly mum was above the cut-off age and so was not covered by the policy – even though Mmatli had been paying for her!
“I thought they would refund me but surprisingly the Chairperson shocked me when she claimed she forgot about my issue till today. If they could bring back my money, I would be thankful,” concludes Mmatli, her comments producing murmurs of approval from the other ladies.
“We will not rest until they give us our money back so we can join other societies who treat us better!” exclaims one.
One of their main gripes is the organisation’s apparent chaotic set-up.
“There are no meetings where you discuss and agree; there is no constitution. Shegotja Molelo hurt us by increasing the fees. If people benefited when they were bereaved, that would be better,” adds one Kgomotso Kgwereme.
When contacted about the allegations, the Branch Chairperson, Mosesane, confirmed being aware of the complaints.
She admitted the society were still working on their constitution and that the matter of refunding the bereaved families required the two parties to sit down together.
Meanwhile, the office of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Molepolole South, Kabo Morwaeng, confirmed the women approached them last year.
Senior Administration Officer, Thabo Nnanaakoko, explained they duly contacted Shegotja Molelo Society, who promised to investigate the matter.
However, with no progress made, the MP’s office have now arranged to meet with Molepolole’s Deputy Village Chief next week to resolve the issue.
Established on 12th May, 2001, it has been a difficult year for the burial society, with the death of its President, Goleba Mokwena, swiftly followed by founder, Kebitsemang Motshonono, passing in March.