A total of 485 people were arrested countrywide yesterday as police cracked down on Zimbabweans who have been wantonly disregarding the 21-day lockdown that requires them to stay at home.
The lockdown is designed to minimise interaction among citizens to contain the spread of Covid-19 that has infected more than 900 000 people and killed over 50 000 worldwide.
A majority of those who were arrested were fined between $200 and $500.
Zimbabweans have been failing to appreciate the gravity of the pandemic that has devastated countries across the globe.
By not adhering to the stay-home instruction, people are endangering themselves and their loved ones as they could contract the virus and pass it on to those at home.
Police have since deployed more teams and set up more roadblocks to discourage people from moving to the city centre. However, more may need to be done at residential areas where people still move around freely.
During Day Four of the lockdown yesterday, more people continued to flout the lockdown order as in Bulawayo hundreds of people were turned back across the city’s major roads as they attempted to make their way into the central business district.
Yesterday, police were stopping Zupco buses at numerous roadblocks and checking if passengers had permits to travel during the lockdown period.
Those found without the permits were asked to disembark and return home.
In most high density suburbs, people went about their normal day to day business, socialising, sitting on bridges, relaxing and sharing beer at shops while children continued to play in the streets.
A high number of shoppers who managed to make their way to the city centre queued to buy non-essential items like biscuits and corn snacks.
The items are available at shops in residential areas.
Police descended on defiant residents in the CBD and scores were loaded into trucks and taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station.
They were all made to account for their presence in the city centre and those that had no convincing reasons were fined.
Health experts have called for more stringent measures to deter those who do not comply with lockdown regulations.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said it was disheartening that some citizens want to roam aimlessly instead of complementing Government’s regulations to fight the spread of Covid-19.
“They were arrested for violating the Statutory Instrument (SI) that was put by the Government that is SI 83 of 2020. You also have people committing traffic offences, operating shebeens, that is basically the nature of the offences that people have been arrested for.
“We are saying people should just comply there is no need for people to play with their health. There is no need for the people to disregard measures that have been put by the Government so that the nation will be able to contain Covid-19 virus,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said people should stop coming up with flimsy excuses just to defy Government’s regulations.
“There are exemptions that have been put by Government and people must just stick to those unless if there are reasonable or traceable requests to be moving around. But so far most of the requests are not genuine,” he said.
On concerns that police were not observing social distance in arresting suspects, Asst Comm Nyathi said they were rectifying their mistakes.
He said enforcement agents have been told to observe the issues of social distancing.
“This includes the transportation and movement of suspects from one point to another or to police stations,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents in Gwanda continued to ignore the directive to stay at home with most walking around the streets conducting normal business.
There were long queues at supermarkets as people continued to look for basic communities. People could also be seen roaming the streets in groups and milling around, oblivious of the prevailing lockdown.
There was also an increase in the number of vehicles in the CBD while taxi operators were ferrying people from residential areas to the CBD.
However, shops that sell non-essentials remained closed and market stalls remained empty.
In Victoria Falls people continued to defy the call to stay indoors forcing police to move around with a hailer telling residents to stay home as scores were on the streets. In the afternoon police mounted roadblocks at major roads linking high density suburbs to the city centre.
They barred people without serious business from going to town. The Chronicle