In the Eastern Cape, police have made a breakthrough and arrested seven suspects who are behind the grisly business of insuring people and then having them killed in order to claim their life insurance payouts.
Investigations by police units across the Eastern Cape have linked 11 seemingly unrelated deaths to life insurance policy claims totalling about R3.7 million.
A collaborative effort by the Komani Murder and Robbery Unit, the Cradock Commercial Crimes Investigation Unit and several other units in Nelson Mandela Bay saw a series of arrests made in KwaNobuhle and Despatch in the early hours of Saturday.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the specialised police units assisted by local officers swooped on the homes of six suspects.
“The suspects were wanted regarding several murder cases where the motives for the killings were driven by greed and deception linked to insurance claims,” Naidu said.
“The arrests were made after more than 10 months of intense investigations which linked the syndicate to numerous hit killings in KwaDwesi, KwaNobuhle, Despatch, Whittlesea and Kamesh.”
She said a seventh suspect was already in custody at St Albans prison, where he is awaiting trial on a charge of illegal possession of a firearm.
The syndicate targets most vulnerable people who they insure without their knowledge and later on kill them for money.
An insurance agent who spoke to Scrolla.Africa on condition of anonymity said one of the suspects was her client.
“I am shocked. He was one of my biggest clients. He brought in a lot of business for me in the form of people that he insured,” she said.
“I never thought for one minute that he could be involved in something like this. I feel as if I contributed to these deaths.”
A community member who lost a loved one, said many people in her area attained their riches through insuring people who were subsequently murdered.
“My aunt was staying alone, she had no children and she used to drink a lot. She was insured by someone in our area and was later killed by unknown men.
“The person who insured her never contributed towards the funeral. I don’t know how they got the death certificate in order to claim it. I think they have connections at Home Affairs,” she said.
The seven suspects face at least 11 murder charges, two of which were double murders in KwaNobuhle, along with charges of racketeering and fraud relating to insurance claims over the past two years.
It is alleged that the suspects made fraudulent claims totalling R3,769,899.
This includes an amount of R2,629,899 which was paid out, and a further R1.14m in rejected claims in a period of less than two years.