A habitual thief was yesterday sentenced to an effective 60 days in jail after failing to raise a $500 fine for loitering, in violation of lockdown regulations, while more than 5 700 people have been arrested countrywide over various violations.
There was commotion when the thief, Billiard Chigodora (41), of House Number 4330 Nketa 7 suburb in Bulawayo, strolled to court wearing a pair of stolen khaki trousers and a red gold T-shirt, belonging to a Chronicle reporter.
The clothes were stolen last week from a washing line at a residential flat in the city’s central business district.
A report was immediately made and a docket was opened for theft.
Chigodora, who has several criminal records, mostly theft and pickpocketing, was nabbed by police who were on patrol for unnecessary movement during the national lockdown in violation of Section 4 (1) (a) of Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020.
The SI was recently published by the Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo in terms of the Public Health Act and in consultation with President Mnangagwa.
The SI was promulgated to give legal effect to the restriction of movement of people for 21 days, March 30 to April 19.
Chigodora, who is not employed, was convicted by Bulawayo magistrate Mr Shepherd Munjanja.
In passing the sentence, Mr Munjanja said violating lockdown regulations is a serious offence as it exposes the generality of the population to the deadly Covid-19.
“The accused person’s conduct of ignoring the law decreed to fight the deadly Covid-19 virus is a serious offence. This is actually not a banana republic, it is a country that has laws and every citizen has to comply for the purposes of fighting the spread of the deadly global pandemic,” he said.
The magistrate said people who violate lockdown regulations deserve punishment.
“People like you certainly deserve punishment, which will be exemplary to like-minded people who deliberately violate the law,” said Mr Munjanja.
Prosecuting, Ms Martha Tafa said on Monday at around 12.45AM, Chigodora was spotted by police walking along Plumtree Road near Lobels Bakeries in Bulawayo’s Belmont area. He was stopped and on being asked why he was walking around at night in violation of the lockdown regulations, Chigodora failed to give a valid reason leading to his arrest.
“On being quizzed, the accused person failed to give a satisfactory response. He also failed to produce any exemption document allowing him to move around during the lockdown period,” said Ms Tafa.
Meanwhile, police commended members of the public for cooperating with the security services during enforcement of Government Covid-19 lockdown measures.
In a statement yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they arrested 5 788 people since the commencement of the lockdown for flouting lockdown measures, which include liquor and traffic-related offences, opening of businesses, unnecessary movement, gatherings and miscellaneous offences.
He urged people to continue cooperating to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“However, the security services have noted with concern the volume of traffic as motorists try to drive into major cities’ central business districts such as Harare and Bulawayo without any valid reasons. Several queues of motor vehicles were noted this morning with some motorists pleading with deployed officers to be allowed to proceed to town,” he said.
“We implore such motorists to consider their safety first and the security of others. Please stay at home and avoid brushes with the law. Members of the public and the business community should note that some exemptions are being reviewed by relevant Ministries and institutions and those with such exemptions are urged to be in constant liaison with those responsible for the issuance of such exemptions to be up to date with the new developments.”
Police also urged members of the public to desist from gender-based violence during the lockdown.
During the shutdown, people are supposed to be confined to their homes and may only leave to buy basic necessities at a supermarket or food retail store, or
fuel or gas at a fuel or gas retail outlet, within a radius not exceeding five kilometres or the nearest establishments if those within the radius are closed. However, only one person per household would be permitted to leave the house for the above purposes.
Individuals are also permitted to leave their homes to buy at pharmacies within a five-kilometre radius or the nearest establishment if the first one is closed or does not have required medicines in stock.
People working in organisations providing essential services are also permitted to leave their homes to go to work, including those working for foreign missions or agencies. — @mashnets