High Court Set to Officially Declare Status of Missing Individuals After Cyclone Idai

January 14, 2024
Cyclone Idai | Report Focus News
Cyclone Idai

In a significant development, the High Court of Zimbabwe is on the verge of officially declaring the status of 279 individuals who went missing in the aftermath of the devastating Cyclone Idai that struck the country in 2019. This pivotal move comes following a class action spearheaded by Attorney General Virginia Mabhiza, an initiative that has garnered unanimous support.

Cyclone Idai wreaked havoc in Zimbabwe in mid-March 2019, causing extensive damage to both infrastructure and crops. The floods claimed numerous lives, particularly in the southeastern districts of Chipinge and Chimanimani in Manicaland Province.

According to the Department of Civil Protection, the 341 individuals confirmed dead were promptly laid to rest, but the whereabouts of the missing 279 remain unknown, as reported by the state-run newspaper, The Herald.

Attorney General Mabhiza, in an exercise of her constitutional mandate to safeguard public interest, initiated the class action in early December 2023. This action, once confirmed by the High Court, is poised to provide families with the means to obtain death certificates. Such documentation is crucial for resolving inheritance matters and ensuring the proper care of surviving minor children by their parents or guardians.

Traditionally, under ordinary law, the legal process to declare a missing person deceased can only be initiated after a five-year period. However, Mabhiza’s proactive approach aims to alleviate financial burdens on affected families by enabling the declaration without incurring legal costs.

This development is expected to bring closure to the families affected by the Cyclone Idai tragedy, allowing them to navigate the legal processes involved more efficiently.