A COVID-19 patient has taken the government to court contesting recent burial restrictions as he claims they would violate his cultural beliefs in the event that he dies and is not buried at his rural home.
This comes after the ministry of Health on January 11 imposed restrictions on the movement of Covid-19 victims and directed that a body should be buried in the city where death would have occurred.
Darlington Marange, who is in isolation at his Harare home after testing positive for Covid-19, told the court that he comes from Mutare and his African traditional beliefs demand that he should be buried in his rural home in Marange.
He cited Health minister and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga and Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe as respondents.
He wants an order for the burial restrictions to be declared unconstitutional and enforcement of the press statement, which carried the said order, to be suspended. In the application filed before the High Cou rt by Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum on behalf of Marange, he submitted that his beliefs regard the send-off into the after world as a deeply important and sacred act which should follow certain cultural dictates.
“In my family line, which is of royal blood, all male family members are supposed to be buried in Mount Makomwe in Marange where all my forefathers have been buried since time immemorial.
“It is of critical importance to me that my body should be transported for burial to this mountain when I die,” he said. Marange argued that Chiwenga’s directive was unconstitutional and should be regarded as nothing more than a press statement which had no force.
“As far as I believe, press statements cannot so fickly take away constitutionally guaranteed rights. “The press statement is unlawful for want of compliance with the law. “The first respondent (Chiwenga) has no authority to deny that legal right through press statements as he has done and then ask the police to enforce it,” argued Marange.
Marange said since January 11, when he tested positive for Covid-19, he has been battling symptoms which include acute chest pains and weak muscles which he fears may result in death.
“If this directive persists, I stand to be buried contrary to my deeply sacrosanct cultural beliefs and practices. “This violates the very fabric of my person and my constitutionally protected rights to freedom of conscience and human dignity.”