Government to declare 279 missing Cyclone Idai victims dead

Government to declare 279 missing Cyclone Idai victims dead

By Xinhua

HARARE: The High Court of Zimbabwe is set to declare 279 people who went missing after Cyclone Idai hit the country in 2019, state media reported on Saturday.

This follows a class action instituted by Attorney General Virginia Mabhiza, which has not been opposed by anyone.

Cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe in mid-March 2019 and caused massive damage to infrastructure and crops as floods swept away scores of people.

Areas that were mainly affected were the southeastern districts of Chipinge and Chimanimani in Manicaland Province.

According to the Department of Civil Protection, all the 341 people who were confirmed dead were buried soon after the disaster, while many others remained missing.

The police still had 279 people listed as missing, state-run The Herald newspaper said.

According to the paper, Mabhiza exercised her constitutional mandate in defence of the public interest and, in early December 2023, instituted the class action where she sought objections from interested people.

If confirmed by the High Court, the action would enable families to obtain death certificates. This would also enable them to sort out inheritance issues and ensure that surviving minor children are placed under the care of parents and guardians, the paper said.

Under ordinary law, relatives of a person missing can approach the courts after five years to have that person declared legally dead, the paper said.

However, Mabhiza instituted the class action so that the families, many of whom are poor, could have the declaration made without paying any legal costs, the paper added.