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Zimbabwe AG seeks to declare 279 cyclone victims dead

HARARE — The Attorney General of Zimbabwe is seeking a court order to declare 279 people who went missing after Cyclone Idai in 2019 as dead.

The move is intended to help the families of the missing victims, who have faced legal and financial challenges in the absence of official death certificates. The Attorney General, Mrs Virginia Mabiza, has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of the affected families in the High Court at Mutare.

Cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe in March 2019, killing at least 340 people and displacing 270,000 others. The storm caused widespread flooding and landslides, especially in the Chimanimani and Chipinge districts. Many of the missing victims were swept away by the raging waters or buried under mud and debris.

The police had verified the names of the 279 missing victims, who have not been found despite major rescue and recovery efforts. The statement also said the families of the missing victims have faced difficulties in obtaining birth certificates for their children, accessing pensions and other benefits of their relatives, and filling vacant positions left by the missing persons.

The class action lawsuit, which is based on the Class Actions Act and the Missing Persons Act, will enable the Registrar of Deaths and Births to issue death certificates and any other relevant documentation to the next of kin of the missing persons, the statement said.