THERE was widespread defiance yesterday of the Government directive for people to stay home during the 21-day lockdown period that came into effect on Monday.
Government has come up with a number of regulations aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 that has resulted in one death from eight positive cases.
Since Monday, a national lockdown was effected amid hopes that the restriction on movement would reduce contact between people and stifle the growing contagion. Ending or bringing infections to manageable levels largely depends on compliance with the stay at home orders.
“Defying the lockdown poses problems for a country as cases can overwhelm hospitals and health personnel.
While most Bulawayo residents heeded the Government’s call for those not offering critical services to the nation on Monday, on day two of the lockdown yesterday some people were back to their old ways.
In residential areas, a Chronicle news crew observed many people roaming across the city’s high-density suburbs while in the low-density suburbs it was relatively quiet albeit with more human and vehicular traffic as compared to Monday.
In Entumbane suburb, groups of men were seen drinking beer around Entumbane complex.
Along Luveve Road near the complex and in Luveve all the way to Gwabalanda there were illegal fuel dealers selling the commodity from Honda Fit vehicles.
A number of men and women were seen displaying wares for sale while groups of men sat on either side of the road drinking beer and playing cards.
In Makokoba, Njube, Pumula South, Luveve and Gwabalanda suburbs, groups of children were playing on the streets and some were being sent for different errands.
In nearly all the suburbs, vendors were back to their designated and undesignated vending stalls, conducting business, attracting many people.
Some people, especially youths were sitting in groups on bridges and trenches while others were milling around at shops and other public places.
In some neighbourhoods, people were visiting each other.
Some men who were playing cards outside J-Themba store in Gwabalanda suburb were hostile to the news crew after they were asked if they knew about how the virus spread and why they were in defiance of the Government’s directive.
In Njube, some women who were grouped under a tree while one of them was having her hair done said they thought they were not in any violation of the lockdown as they were in their neighborhood right outside their yards.
In Makokoba, some men who were busy welding and making scotch carts at backyard industries said they had orders to finish and could not just pack and go home as they were also working from their neighbourhoods.
In the Central Business District (CBD), some vendors were back at their selling points. A few pirate taxis were also seen picking up some passengers.
Certain areas of the CBD were busy with queues and at some shops people were queuing for mealie-meal and other basic commodities. Flea markets remained closed as well as most vegetable markets.
Some of the people who were interviewed said they had only received their salaries yesterday and were therefore trying to ensure they had all that they needed for the three-week lockdown.
Other people in townships said they could not spend days at home as they were looking for cheaper shops to buy basic goods from for families.
A Gwabalanda resident, Mr Stanly Sithole said it was easier to stay at home if someone had all food supplies needed for the shut-down.
“If you have all you need, you can stay at home, but if you have nothing, how do you sit at home and watch the children starve.
“Those children will be killed by hunger before you even think of Covid-19 killing them.
“If things are not ok at home, we will roam the streets, it is a sign that all is not well, police must bear with us,” said Mr Sithole.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said so far police have arrested one man in Njube suburb after he violated standing orders.
He said police first gave the man a warning when he was found selling wares at a shopping centre in the suburb.
The man was told to pack up and go home by police officers.
Insp Ncube said however the man left and set up a vending stall at the gate at his house.
Many people were frequenting his house to buy, leading to his arrest.
Inspector Ncube said police are going to arrest people found milling around and violating the lockdown order.
“We call on members of the public to abide by the law and to stay at home at this time.
“This virus is real and we appeal to people to take their lives and their health seriously by staying at home.
“Parents should ensure that their children are within the confines of their yards all the time and we have been observing that a number of children have been playing in the streets.
“We also urge youths to stay at home and stop milling around at the shops,” he said.
“We will not hesitate to use the law to deal with any people who fail to abide by the given orders.
“We have been going around suburbs being lenient on people and urging them that this should be followed.
“The majority has been obeying but we do have cases of people who have been in defiance and we are issuing this warning that they may find themselves in murky waters.”
In Victoria Falls the business community took heed of the call for the lockdown and closed shops with supermarkets operating between 8am and 4pm latest while residents generally ignored the call as they could be seen going about their daily business.
Tuckshops were open in the suburbs while people moved around willy nilly with children also playing on the streets. The vegetable markets were also open.
In Gweru, shops in the CBD and in the high- and low-density areas were closed for the second day of the Covid-19 lockdown.
Police mounted roadblocks along all roads leading to the CBD turning back motorists who did not havee valid reasons to be away from their homes.
A few people were seen roaming around the streets in Mkoba, Senga, Mtapa, Mambo and Ascot.
In Gwanda residents have started complying with lock down order.
In the CBD there were no people at the market stalls, bars were closed and only grocery shops were open with few clients.
Police were conducting foot and cycle patrols in the CBD and residential areas. — @andile_tshuma