GRACE CHAILE-LESOETSA writes @SunZambian
THE Lusaka High Court has declared dead a Zambia Army soldier who went missing nine years ago.Judge Gertrude Chawatama has ordered that by her determination of the matter, the Registrar of births and deaths after the expiration of fourteen (14) days could issue a certificate of death of Staff Sergeant Ryod Lwengeshi.The State had asked the Lusaka High Court to declare S/G Lwengeshi dead who went missing on November 11, 2011 while on vacation. He was aged 39.Lieutenant Colonel Elias Zulu, the Man Power and Personnel Administration Officer in the Zambia Army and responsible for Man Power in the Regular Force of the Zambia Army wanted the court to grant the Army permission to swear death of S/G Lwengeshi so that his estate could be compensated to his family.Lt. Col. Zulu said the deceased was a bonafide soldier as he was attested as a soldier in the regular force of the Zambia army on December 7, 1994 .He said the estate of S/G Lwengeshi having been deemed to have retired after 24 years at the time he was presumed dead is approximately valued at K857,364.35.He stated that the law presumes a person to have died if their whereabouts are unknown for a period of seven years or more, therefore it is a fit and proper case in which the court can exercise its discretion and grant the order sought.Lt.Col Zulu said the swearing of death will not prejudice any person but in the converse, the ends of justice will be met as it will give closure to the family of S/G Lwengeshi and ZA.Ms justice Chawatama had declared in her judgment passed on November 6 , this year that after analysing evidence before her, she was satisfied that the former employers on behalf of S/G Lwengeshi family have sufficient interest and the rightful per-sons to pursue the declaration .” I hereby declare that the missing person staff sergeant Royd Lwengeshi whose service number was G3565 is deemed to have died and since he was last seen when he went on vacation leave, that will be the effective date of his death. The declara-tion being conclusive proof of the missing person presumed dead is effective for all purposes and against all persons and that the effect of declaration extends to matters of property ownership as retirement benefits,” she said.The beneficiaries of S/G Lwengeshi ‘s estate who did not leave a will are his spouse, children, parents and dependants.“It is further deposed that he was advised by the State advocate at the Arakan Barracks, at Lusaka in the 29th July 2020 at 09: 00 hours and verily believe the same to be true and correct that the law assumes a person to have died if their whereabouts are unknown for a period of seven (7) years or more,” she stated.
Ms Justice Chawatama said that it was in view of the foregoing that it was a fit and proper case in which her court could exer-cise it’s discretion and grant the order sought as it would not prejudice any person but in the converse, the ends of justice would be met as it would give closure to the family of the deceased.