Somerset West Couple Guilty of Liberty Life Assurance Fraud

Four-year sentence for faking death

woman fakes death
Hanelie Nel, pictured, and Charlene van Graan were sentenced in the Cape Town Regional Court for faking Nel s death. Pictures: Tracey Adams

Cape Town - A Somerset West woman who faked her death to cash in on a life insurance policy worth R3.6 million will spend at least eight months in jail after she was sentenced in the Cape Town Regional Court.
Magistrate Jan van Zyl on Tuesday sentenced Hanelie Nel, 50, to four years in jail in terms of a section in the Criminal Procedure Act which allows her sentence to be converted to correctional supervision if she behaves well in prison.
Nel and her co-accused - Charlene van Graan, 39, of Stellenbosch, and Doretha Kotze, 59, of the Free State - admitted in court on Tuesday that they were involved in a scam to fake Nel’s death on March 14, 2011. Each pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud.
The court heard that Nel had taken out a life insurance policy with Liberty life on September 15, 2009, and more than doubled it the following year. Kotze was listed as Nel’s beneficiary.
In Nel’s guilty plea she said she had been going through “tough, personal, financial challenges” and decided to concoct the plan.
Nel approached Van Graan, who worked at Avbob Funeral and Assurance Services at the time, and persuaded her to issue a fake death registration certificate in return for a payment of R100 000.
When the document and death certificate were handed to Liberty Life and the claim was being processed, staff noticed the place of death listed on the relevant documents were not the same.
The finance house called in the police, who determined that Nel was alive.
She was arrested. Van Graan and Kotze were arrested soon afterwards.
On Tuesday, Van Zyl sentenced Van Graan to five years in jail, wholly suspended for five years. He warned her not to commit a similar crime of fraud or theft or she would be sent to jail.
“Both of you (Nel and Van Graan) are mature. One would expect you to act responsibly and be an example to younger people, but this wasn’t the case when you planned this crime,” Van Zyl said.
The case against Kotze was separated on Tuesday because Van Zyl was not convinced that she admitted guilt.
In her guilty plea Kotze said she was unaware of Nel’s plan and had received the death certificate and policy in the post. Later, Nel contacted her and lived with her. Only then did she realise something strange was going on.
Despite this, Kotze did not inform the police or tell Liberty Life to stop the claim.
Kotze is expected to appear before a new magistrate today.
Cape Argus

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