90 % Gukurahundi survivors suffer mental health – ZHRC

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

SOME 90 % of Gukurahundi survivors are suffering from mental health impairments due to trauma and cannot access national documentation, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has revealed.

Speaking at the launch of the National Inquiry on Access to Documentation report in Bulawayo Thursday, ZHRC Director responsible for Complaints Handling and Investigations department, Kurai Makumbe said most victims of the government sanctioned atrocities were finding it difficult to access national documentation.

“Adverse effects of Gukurahundi on accessing national documents such as birth certificates and death certificates are still being experienced.

“Many people lost national documents in Gukurahundi era and are unable to replace them. Failure to get death certificates in cases of missing persons who died in this era resulting in generations of undocumented persons,” said Makumbe.

The ZHRC director said in cases in which witnesses were required to support application of documents, many are often scared to testify about the death of their relatives for fear of victimisation.

“Some of the Gukurahundi affected persons are reluctant to participate in mobile registration exercises as it reminds them of Gukurahundi events.

“Approximately 90% of those who experienced Gukurahundi are suffering from mental health impairments due to the trauma and cannot access documentation,” she said.

Makumbe said unfriendly infrastructure at the Registrar General‘s district offices were also hindering people with disabilities from accessing national documentation.

“There are unfriendly infrastructure at DRG for wheelchair users such ramps or rails,” she said.

Makumbe said some families of persons with disabilities were in the habit of hiding them in their houses, in the process depriving them of national documentation.

According to the report, minority groups also face challenges in accessing national documents.

“High illiteracy and poverty levels marginalised them and made access to documentation difficult. Language barriers also affect access to documentation,” said the report,

Also according to the report, most people in marginalised communities delivered at homes which make registration difficult as there are no birth confirmation records.

Early this year, ZHRC conducted a national Inquiry on access to documentation.

Several stakeholders including the government, traditional leaders civil organisations, faith based organisations and individuals made contributions during the inquiry.

ZHRC chairperson Commissioner Elasto Mugwadi said in conducting the national inquiry, the Commission extensively engaged stakeholders so as to ensure that the findings would reflect the challenges of accessing documentation at national level.

“A document such as a birth certificate enhances a person’s ability to navigate through life and achieve personal fulfilment.

“On the other hand, lack of this seemingly insignificant document results in far reaching consequences and shuts doors to opportunities later in life.

“In particular, lack of access impedes enjoyment of fundamental human rights and freedoms such as right to identity, freedom of movement, right to education among many others,” said the ZHRC chairperson.