Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
FOUR commuter drivers have been arrested after they were intercepted by police in Lupane illegally carrying passengers without exemption to operate during the Covid-19 lockdown.
This comes amid concerns over pirate commuter operators who usually carry people between towns at night to avoid police and health officials as they are not allowed to operate.
Those violating lockdown rules also include truck drivers who are abusing exemption by Government to carry cargo and are now transporting people and parcels, which can also be a breeding ground for Covid-19 as they are not disinfected.
Nyasha Arnold Chinyoka (28) of Mkhosana Victoria Falls, Jasper Mpofu (37) of Pumula East, Usher Mpofu (25) of Luveve and Xolisani Ndlovu (25) of Old Lobengula, all in Bulawayo were arrested separately between July 8 and last week Tuesday carrying people along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road.
Chinyoka was driving a kombi from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls with seven passengers while Mpofu was driving a Mercedes Benz Sprinter from Jotsholo to Kenmaur with seven passengers.
Ndlovu was driving a Toyota Granvia from Bulawayo to Cross Dete with eight passengers on board while Usher was driving a kombi with nine passengers from Bulawayo to Lupane.
They were all not authorised to carry people between cities as they were not essential service providers.
Each was charged with contravening Section 4(2) of the Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020, cited as the Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) Regulations 2020, that is to say venturing into inter-city transport services during national lockdown while not exempted.
Chinyoka, Mpofu, Ndlovu and Usher pleaded guilty to the charge when they separately appeared before Lupane Resident magistrate Mr Ndumo Masuku who fined each of them $3 000 or six months in jail in default of payment.
In addition, the magistrate slapped each of them with six months in jail which was wholly suspended for five years on condition that they do not commit similar offences.
The magistrate said they committed a serious crime as they exposed members of the public to high risks of contracting Covid-19 by carrying them without following due procedures to ensure social distancing as espoused by the law.
Prosecuting, Mr Derrick Ndlovu said none of the four was authorised to operate.
“On the 14th day of July at around 12.30pm the accused Nyasha Arnold Chinyoka was driving a Toyota Hiace from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls with seven passengers. He was stopped at a police roadblock. He was asked to produce an exemption letter and permit but failed to do so and was arrested on the spot,” said the prosecutor.
Ndlovu was arrested on the same day with Chinyoka while Mpofu and Usher were arrested on July 8 and 9 respectively.
Usher’s kombi was impounded as it was unroadworthy. — @ncubeleon