Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Correspondent
MORE than 25 000 people have been arrested countrywide for defying Covid-19 lockdown regulations since the promulgation of the shutdown on March 30, the majority of them in Bulawayo.
Some of the people who were arrested were apprehended for not wearing face masks, opening shops and other business establishments that are not specified as an essential service.
Liquor-related offences constitute a high number of arrests too.
Under level two of the lockdown, people can travel within cities but inter-city travel remains prohibited. Only Zupco buses and kombis are allowed to transport the public, but police have noted that some kombis not covered under that scheme are operating at night.
Some haulage truck drivers have been pirating as public service vehicles. According to police, 25 601 people had been arrested as of yesterday afternoon, with Bulawayo still topping the list of lockdown arrests at 5 914, followed by Manicaland province at 5 481.
In an interview yesterday, National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said Harare comes third with 3 332 arrests while Mashonaland East province has the least number of arrests at 1 013.
Asst Comm Nyathi said 64 people were arrested on Sunday countrywide for failure to wear face masks in public places.
He said liquor-related offences continued to be a major headache for the police, while companies and shops opening illegally followed closely behind.
“The issue of liquor-related offences is still one of the biggest cases during the lockdown. We are happy that people seem to be following the lockdown rules well, as numbers of people arrested for general defiance are stabilising and people have taken the message of wearing masks seriously. Yesterday 436 people were arrested countrywide for gallivanting in the CBD, where they failed to explain their reasons for being in town, while 64 were arrested for not wearing masks. Generally, people are complying. We have people who have opened shops, businesses or establishments that do not fall into the level two approved shops who are violating regulations as well and we are dealing with those,” he said.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police were following up on deportees to check if any of them had fled the country with pending criminal cases as some wanted persons are still on the run.
“Following the deportation of 129 ex-convicts (from South Africa), police are checking if any of the returning residents who have been deported are wanted for any pending criminal records. We are working on checking these records,” he said.
He said there is need for continued awareness campaigns and continued public education efforts for people still not complying with lockdown regulations.
He called on members of the public to follow the new rules and recommendations in level two of the lockdown, especially on putting on masks when in public spaces to help reduce the risk of contracting or spreading Covid-19. — @andile_tshuma