A 24-YEAR-OLD Chiredzi man’s attempt to defraud a funeral assurance company by falsely claiming that his son and mother-in-law had died in a road accident hit a brick wall after police demanded to physically view the deceased’s bodies before they could process their death confirmation letters.
The fraudster, Tineyi Chengeta, was on Monday sentenced to 15 months in jail for his foiled attempt to defraud Moonlight Funeral Services.
The court heard that when police blew up the lid off Chengeta’s con artistry he had already outwitted staff at the funeral company and obtained coffins for his “dead” relatives and groceries for the funeral wake.
Public prosecutor Nkanele Ndlovu told the court that on June 18 this year, Chengeta approached a Moonlight employee Tenboy Mubaiwa at his offices and claimed that his son and mother-in-law had been involved in a road accident along the Ngundu-Beitbridge Road and died on the spot.
Chengeta, who is an account holder at the funeral parlour went on to claim his benefits. As a result of the misrepresentation, Chengeta received a two-tier casket for his mother-in-law, a two-feet-long coffin for his son and groceries for the funeral wake.
Mubaiwa, however, withheld the $360 cash payout which Chengeta was entitled to demanding to have sight of the pair’s burial orders or police confirmation letters.
Chengeta later led Mubaiwa and an undertaker identified as Charles Mashapa to Neshuro Hospital where he claimed the bodies were being kept. The funeral parlour employees carried with them the two coffins, ready to conduct the burials.
However, Chengeta later ordered them to drive to Ngundu Police Station saying he wanted to collect a death confirmation letter.
On arrival, Chengeta went into the charge office where he demanded death confirmation letters saying he had left the deceased’s bodies in the funeral parlour vehicle outside the police station.
However, police became suspicious and opened the coffins and found them empty, leading to Chengeta’s arrest.
He, however, escaped a custodial term after the court suspended the 15-month sentence and instead ordered him to perform 420 hours of community service at Chiredzi Magistrates’ Court.