Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
BULAWAYO has recorded over 2 000 out of nearly 10 000 arrests countrywide for lockdown violations, the highest record out of 10 provinces.
President Mnangagwa declared a three-week lockdown that commenced on March 30 but extended it by a further two weeks on Sunday, hours before its expiry due to a spike in infections – 25 cases on that day – with the numbers rising amid fears that they could gallop uncontrollably.
In Bulawayo, there has been rampant defiance of the lockdown order and failure to maintain social distancing especially when people are queuing to buy basic commodities.
Most of the people arrested in Bulawayo were nabbed for unnecessary movements.
Since the lockdown came into effect three weeks ago, Chronicle news crews have witnessed groups of men drinking beer at public places and sheebens in some suburbs. Some residents are not observing the requirement that they must travel to buy at shops within a five-kilometre radius of their homes. Even for those buying at local shops, the requirement that only one family member should do so is not observed.
Some businesses not designated as providers of essential services have been operating. Also, there has been an influx of vehicles into the city’s Central Business District.
Police yesterday said they would remain vigilant on the ground to ensure that the public observes the two-week lockdown extension to May 3.
In a statement yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said nearly 10 000 people had been arrested for offences that include violating restrictions guidelines, traffic and other offences during the lockdown period.
“A total of 9 889 people have been arrested for various offences since the commencement of the national lockdown. The offences include violating lockdown guidelines, traffic and other offences. Arrests are as listed: – Bulawayo province 2214, Manicaland province 1975, Midlands province 1289, Harare 1229, Mashonaland West Province 909, Matabeleland South province 820, Matabeleland North 469, Mashonaland Central province 330, Mashonaland East province 330, Masvingo province 252 and Support Unit 64,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said as Government has extended the national lockdown by two weeks, police and other security forces will remain on high alert to ensure compliance.
“In this regard, the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other security services will maintain current deployments to enforce safety and security measures in place and any further guidance to be provided by Government for the benefit of Zimbabweans. We are therefore appealing to members of the public to adhere to security, health and safety guidelines provided by Government and to co-operate with security services as they enforce the measures,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said most citizens are supposed to stay at home in line with lockdown regulations.
The police spokesperson said entities and institutions exempted for essential services are encouraged to seek guidance from relevant authorities for assistance.
He said only those with exemptions and those on the essential services list will be allowed to pass through security check points.
“Police remind the public to observe the social distance guidelines and to ensure they comply with the laws and regulations to enable the security services to effectively maintain law and order,” he said.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said most of the people who were nabbed were arrested for unnecessary movements.
“Most people were arrested for loitering, travelling with insufficient reasons mostly those getting to the city centre, illegally operating business premises for unexempted sectors and pirating motorists picking up passengers,” said Insp [email protected]