People who lost their relatives during the Gukurahundi atrocities have been advised to use the Missing Persons Act in order to acquire their death certificates.
The Missing Persons Act provides for the presumption of death of a person who is missing, or for the care and administration of the estate of such a person, and to provide for matters incidental to or connected with the foregoing.
Speaking during an Inter-District indaba on Missing Persons, Dumisani Mpofu, executive coordinator of the Freedom First Trust Project said the Missing Persons Act is a better route to be used by relatives whose loved ones died during their atrocities and their deaths were not recorded.
“The Missing Persons Act does not require one to look for a lawyer, the police or undergo the long process that takes place when applying using the Inquests Act whereby police have to investigate the death of the deceased,” said Mpofu.
He stated that people who lost relatives during the 1980s massacres should be encouraged to use the Missing Persons Act in order to record the number of victims.
“We would be having the record of the victims who went missing or died during Gukurahundi if people had flocked to the magistrate courts and filed through the Missing Persons Act,” said Mpofu.
“However, all hope is not lost because those who are here will be able to inform others about this Act and how one can go about it. The process requires one to have four witnesses confirming that indeed their relative is missing and they swear before the magistrate.”
He said the Missing Persons Act prevents one from having to explain how a person died as that might lead to the authorities backing down in providing a death certificate.
“In some instances, the local authority will be afraid of serving a person who explains how their relative died in uncertain circumstances,” said Mpofu.
He said it is important to inform citizens on the Missing Persons Act in order to move away from the culture of not finding assistance when one goes missing.
“This Act can be applied to anyone whose whereabouts are unknown by their relatives. A number of people went missing at Wenela and relatives accepted the fate,” said Mpofu.
We should inform people about this Act in order to move away from the culture of not taking action when a friend or relative’s whereabouts are unknown.”