Easing the burden of finding lost documents

We all know the psychological and emotional pain we go through when we lose important documents such as passports, ID cards, drivers licences, title deeds, company registration certificates and academic certificates.

What is more distressing is the feeling of helplessness as one would not have the faintest idea about how to find them. We are all aware replacing these items in Zimbabwe is a nightmare no one contemplates facing.

It is this distressing feeling of helplessness that prompted Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi chief executive officer of Hansole Investment (Pvt) Ltd to think of assisting thousands to recover their lost documents.

I lost my metal ID card in October last year and I embarked on a mission to recover it. It was then that I felt for the thousands who lose important documents every day with no clue about how to find them.

That is when we set up the website www.lostandfound.org.zw on November 20 2011 where we publish lost and found items.

Hansole then chose NewsDay to assist them in publishing lost and found items and this has paid off as the number of people who have recovered their items has increased.

NewsDay publishes the lost and found items every Saturday and our partnership has worked brilliantly. So far, more than 300 people have managed to recover their items.

We chose NewsDay because they were already publishing lost and found items as part of their community service work and they have a huge circulation, said Mutisi.

Nhlahla Moyo, a software engineer with Hansole, stressed they do not collect peoples items; they only assist in locating them.

We get the names of people with recovered items from the police or from the Registrar-Generals Office, National Railways of Zimbabwe stations or from members of the public among others.

We then publish the lost and found items either through NewsDay or our website and when someone phones us, we direct them to the place where the items are and this could be a police station or an individual, Moyo said.

Mutisi chipped in: When people phone us looking for their items, we advise them of the place where the items are and we then remove their names from the database. If they do not phone us to tell us they did not find their items, then we know they would have collected them.

NewsDay followed up some of the beneficiaries and one Anna Muroyiwa was happy to recover her ID after she browsed through the lost and found section of the paper, phoned Hansole and was directed to Borrowdale Police Station where she collected her ID.

Thank you very much, she said in a telephone interview with NewsDay, I am very happy I got my ID today.

The problem at present is the logistics of getting recovered documents to people.

Sometimes these lost documents may be in Harare whereas the owner might be in Mutare. We need to come up with a way to save the person the cost and time of travelling.

We want to engage Zimpost so that recovered items are sent to relevant people who can collect them after proof of identity or the production of a police report.

In future, Mutisi said they envisaged a situation where they could link the finder and the seeker.
We are negotiating with a mobile network operator so that we have a short code that allows the seeker to link directly with the finder, he said.

They want to make the project a regional one to assist international travellers who may lose their documents in Zimbabwe.

We have a case at present where someone is in South Africa and the document they lost is at Malborough Police Station and we are trying to think about ways such people can get assistance to get their documents without travelling to Zimbabwe.

Hansole works closely with the police and they have a letter signed by Inspector James Sabau, Harare Provincial Community Relations and Liaison Officer that allows them to publish lost and found items.

Police from various parts of the country assist us with lists of lost and found items and we publish them to help the public, said Mutisi.

What we now seek is the assistance of the corporate world especially if they could allow us to advertise the lost and found items on their premises.

This project, as Mutisi put it, is not just a community service, it is a national service as well.
If we can make, say, one million people recover their lost documents such as IDs, passports, certificates etc, how much would we have saved the country? There wont be any need to produce duplicates.

At the time of this interview Mutisi said they had a list with 19 987 national IDs, 2 356 passports and 4 058 drivers licences.

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