The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has said the mooted Coroner’s Office Bill is meant to address challenges where hospitals and prisons are burdened with unclaimed corpses.
By KHANYILE MLOTSHWA
Charles Manhiri, the deputy director of policy and legal research unit in the ministry told stakeholders at the Bill’s consultative meeting in Bulawayo that the proposed legislation was part of the process of aligning the country’s laws with the new Constitution.
“Currently, Zimbabwe uses an inquest system. It goes without saying that the inquest system which we currently rely on is inadequate to meet the current trends in the investigations of violent, unexpected, suspicious or unnatural deaths; hence the need to overhaul the complete system through the introduction of the coroner’s office,” Manhiri said.
Manhiri said forensic pathology services in Zimbabwe have been a challenge.
“This has led to us resorting to expatriate forensic pathologists with further diplomatic concerns raised when the expatriates have been called upon to give evidence,” he said.
Manhiri said the new law will provide for “the determination of the identity of the deceased persons, how, when and by what means they died.
“Hospitals including the Prison and Correctional Services are burdened with corpses that have not been identified and end up receiving paupers’ burials. This proposed system will surely go a long way in reducing these burdens and also allowing decent burials for our deceased.”