The Zimbabwe Republic Police has partnered with the International Committee of the Red Cross in a Missing and Deceased Migrants Project.
Speaking during the commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared in Harare yesterday, the (Staff Officer Training) Chief Superintendent Nyaku said the partnership would assist in solving the plight of the disappeared.
“The Missing and Deceased Migrants Project was initiated by the International Committee of the Red Cross in an effort to bring to closure the fate of Zimbabwean migrants who go missing in South Africa.
“Since the inception of the Missing and Deceased Migrants Project, the ICRC has positively closed 44 cases, of which 42 migrants were found alive and two migrants were found deceased. This proves that the project is bearing fruits,” said Chief Supt Nyaku
He said the two organisations have agreed that the ZRP should take over the investigation of all the cases of missing migrants and the ICRC would assist through capacitating the ZRP to be able to deal with cases of missing migrants.
“To date, the two organisations have conducted workshops that trained 158 police officers at the headquarters and provincial levels and a workshop for 25 Forensic Science experts, to aid in the investigation of missing migrants’ cases. The ICRC donated 11 digital cameras and computer equipment to the ZRP which will also go a long way in aiding investigation.
“Because of the capacitation initiatives of the ICRC, ZRP Scenes of Crime experts and Crime Studio experts are now in a better position to deal with dead bodies of suspected missing persons. The ZRP Interpol NCB has also put in place a database for missing migrants and is in the process of decentralizing the database to provinces,” he said.
Speaking on the same occasion, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society secretary-general Mr Elias Hwenga said his organisation re-affirmed its support for families of missing persons.
“Thousands of people go missing worldwide due to armed conflicts, violence, disasters, and migration. Many never return and are never heard from again.
“In 2021, the International Committee of the Red Cross, together with Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies registered over 16 000 new cases of missing persons in Africa, bringing the total number of missing across the continent to 64,000.
“During the same period, over 4 200 missing people were located. Additionally, more than 4 800 African children were registered as unaccompanied minors and almost 1 200 children were re-unified with their families during the same period.
“These figures represent only a fraction of a wider undocumented humanitarian tragedy,” said Mr Hwenga.
He said countless families in Zimbabwe are suffering from the uncertainty of not knowing the whereabouts and fate of their loved ones.
“As we may all agree, although the family is the smallest unit of society, it is the most vital to the individual for psycho-social, psychological needs and economic support. Having a missing relative brings terrible suffering to affected families as they are deprived of this support.
“As a country, we are proud that we are part of a process that involves carrying out family needs assessments with the aim to help families of the missing with identified needs and gaps that are created as a result of the absence of their missing loved ones.”
He underscored that anyone who is looking for a missing family member, can contact the ICRC or local Red Cross or Red Crescent office on the Family Links website for more information on how you can register a missing person.
The ICRC head Ms Anna Johane said her organisation would continue to work the Government agencies in order to help families get information on their missing loved ones.
“For every missing person, there are countless people missing them. Time does not heal, only answers do. Today, we mark the International Day of the Disappeared,” said Ms Johane.
Mrs Fisiwe Ngwenya from Gwanda said she and her family were still searching for her brother Mr Sabelwe Nyathi who has been missing since 2015.
“Life has been difficult for us as we keep searching for my brother. The search does not stop. We will continue to search for him,” she said.