By Nqobani Ndlovu/Darlington Mwashita
Bulawayo police have said they do not take joy in arresting COVID-19 lockdown offenders as they appealed to locals to observe regulations aimed at slowing the spread of the disease.
The city recorded the highest number of arrests — 3 973 — for violating lockdown regulations as of April 30, and on Monday, as much as 115 people were nabbed for not wearing face masks in public.
A survey shows that face masks — disposable and re-usable — are being sold for anything between US$1 and US$5.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa said home-made face masks were also permissible.
On Friday, Mnangagwa made the wearing of face masks mandatory as industry and commerce opened after weeks of closure.
Prior to the Friday announcement, Bulawayo had recorded the highest number of lockdown violations in the country.
Previous figures showed that 16 321 people had been arrested countrywide for violating COVID-19 lockdown orders since March 30.
“We don’t enjoy arresting people. We can only be at peace as a city if we are all compliant with the lockdown regulations and stop the spread of COVID-19,” Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube told Southern Eye.
Bulawayo has 12 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and one casualty out of the national total of 34 and four deaths.
Ncube added: “Our wish is for people to comply with the laws. We will be all happy if everyone is compliant as this is also about their safety against contracting COVID-19 and nothing else.”
Bulawayo police have been under attack for violating the rights of many residents upon arrest for allegedly violating lockdown restrictions.
The Matabeleland Forum, a grouping of human rights organisations in the region, in a complaint cited the abuse of two Cowdray Park women assaulted and labelled prostitutes after their arrest while coming from grocery shopping.
“While the lockdown has measures for restricting movement, residents are normally allowed to move within a 5km radius of their homes to access essential services, as long as social distancing measures are observed,” the Forum complained.
“According to the two ladies, who happen to be sisters, nothing they did was in violation of such rules nor required such heavy-handedness from law enforcers.”
Meanwhile, police on Tuesday arrested a man who broke into a vehicle parked at Bootleggers located between 10th and 11 Avenue and stole a handbag containing $50, US$500 and R600, Samsung tablet and a laptop bag.
Ncube confirmed the arrest of Arnold Kuzakwenhamo (33) of Tshabalala after a high-speed chase by the woman’s husband.
Kuzakwenhamo was apprehended after he jumped out of a moving getaway vehicle and sustained injuries on both legs and back.
He was admitted at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) for treatment under police guard, said Ncube.
The stolen property was recovered.
Police are also investigating a robbery which occurred at Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) warehouse depot in Belmont industrial area on Tuesday, where a truck loaded with cough syrup impounded by Zimra officials was looted.
Ncube said the robbery occurred at around 7pm on Tuesday. News Day