Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
POLICE in Bulawayo have roped in their horse and dog units in operations targeting people violating lockdown regulations meant to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since Thursday, a Chronicle news crew has been witnessing scores of vendors and other people being rounded up in the city centre for violating lockdown regulations.
Late last month, Government extended the Level 4 National lockdown by another two weeks and is expected to end this coming Monday.
The measures seem to be paying off as Covid-19 infections and deaths have started decreasing.
On Saturday police teams were conducting raids in the city centre and officers riding horses could be seen apprehending vendors hiding among crowds waiting to board buses to their various destinations near the Small City Hall parking.
Police were also conducting raids using dogs and vehicles while other law enforcement agents were conducting foot patrols in other parts of the city centre.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said the deployment of the teams is part of measures to step up enforcement of lockdown regulations.
He said between Saturday and Sunday, police in Bulawayo arrested 6 491 people for violating lockdown measures following the stepped up operations.
“We have observed that many people are not taking lockdown regulations seriously so we have enlisted the services of all policing departments in an effort to reduce the number of people coming into town without a cause. We now have horses, canine which is our dog section, motorised patrols and those on foot.
This is all to make sure that there is sanity in the city. Those who are not supposed to come without exemption letters or without reason such as going to hospitals to see doctors or pharmacies must stay at home,” said Insp Ncube.
He said even in residential areas, people are not spared from adhering to lockdown prevention measures.
“It does not mean that by not coming into the central business district one should be roaming around in the western suburbs such as Nkulumane, Cowdray Park and Pumula South as you would find people gathered. We will soon dispatch the horse and canine teams to those areas. And we want to urge residents that before this action is taken, we have to take control ourselves and prevent this Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Insp Ncube said on Saturday they arrested 10 youths aged 18 and 19 during an illegal party in Emganwini suburb and some of them failed to pay the $2 000 fine hence they will be taken to court.
“On the 6th day of February 2021 at around 8.30pm, police in Nkulumane received information through an anonymous caller to the effect that there was a party, vuzu party at a house in Emganwini suburb, Bulawayo. The police reacted to the information by proceeding to the given address and managed to arrest the accused persons,” said Insp Ncube.
He said the party convener is an 18-year-old male adult whose parents are based in South Africa.
“It was observed that the accused persons were drinking alcohol and dancing to music. A cooler box and three empty bottles of 750mls blended whisky were recovered at the scene. It was established that the house belongs to the parents of Oscar Sibanda who are staying in South Africa,” he said.
“The accused persons and recovered beer empty bottles were taken to station and the accused persons were detained at ZRP Nkulumane. Some of the accused persons managed to pay fines of $2 000 each while the rest are still in police custody waiting for their parents or guardians to pay the fines.”
Recently, police revealed how their trained dogs and horses have become essential in fighting crime.
The acting officer-in-charge of ZRP Bulawayo Canine Unit, Assistant Inspector Makhosi Masuku, said cops have 20 specially trained dogs that help them in executing their duties.
He said the dogs’ duties include searching for drugs and explosives, locating missing people, finding crime scene evidence, dispersing rioters and attacking people targeted by the police.
Just like canine unit, police have 20 horses which help them to enforce the law.
The horses fall under the Mounted Unit and acting officer in charge of ZRP Bulawayo mounted unit, Assistant Inspector Onias Sibanda, said the horses are an economic all-terrain mode of transport for police officers.
Meanwhile, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said they were aware that some members of the public were bribing police to pass through checkpoints without exemption letters.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police has noted that some members of the public have become complacent and are now violating the national lockdown measures in various suburbs in the country and committing offences which include unnecessary movements, liquor offences and others.
In Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Masvingo motorists are transporting commuters in open defiance of the lockdown measures. Motorists are warned against conniving with security service members to gain passage at check points as they will be dealt with in terms of the law,” said Asst Comm Nyathi. — @nqotshili