By Nyore Madzianike and Rumbidzayi Zinyuke
Several alleged criminals who crossed Zimbabwe’s borders into Botswana and South Africa to escape prosecution are hidden among the returnees quarantined in centres across the country.
Police yesterday confirmed that they had compiled names of suspects who could have escaped into the neighbouring countries.
Some returnees volunteered to return while others were deported.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyati yesterday told The Herald that police had names of suspected criminals who would be taken to court and prosecuted.
Assistant Commissioner Nyati said one suspected criminal from Plumtree who returned a few days ago had since been taken to court to answer to his charges.
Yesterday about 135 people who were returning into the country from Botswana and South Africa arrived in Harare where they were taken to Harare Polytechnic for quarantine.
Out of the 135 people, who arrived at Harare Polytechnic yesterday afternoon, some would be continuing their journeys to Mashonaland East and West since the policy is to quarantine people as close to home as possible.
More people were expected to arrive in Harare by midnight.
The exercise to quarantine all returning residents is part of the measures put in place by Government to reduce the spread of the deadly Covid-19.
Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Mr Clifford Motera said they had prepared a number of quarantine centres around the capital.
“We have Belvedere Teachers College, Queen Elizabeth School, Prince Edward, Allan Wilson, Harare Girls High School and Morgan ZINTEC.
“There is also another batch of 18 people who were being quarantined at Courtney Hotel who will be discharged any time depending on the recommendations by officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
“Once the officials from the ministry give them certificates to leave, they will be released,” he said.
Mr Motera said his ministry was expecting more returnees who were coming home aboard Ethiopian Airways. He said this group would be taken to ZIPAM quarantine centre.
Manicaland also received 229 returnees who are housed at four isolation centres in Mutare.
The province has identified 10 quarantine facilities with a total capacity of 644.
By midday yesterday, Rowa Training Centre, Forestry Industrial Training Centre and Magamba Training Centre had reached maximum capacity with some being taken to Mutare Teachers College.
Manicaland acting Provincial Coordinator Mr Edgars Seenza said the 229 returnees had come through Forbes, Plumtree and Beitbridge border posts.
“The last two buses that arrived today came from Beitbridge and we also received two buses from Plumtree during the night. We are continuing to receive these returning citizens not only from the two ports of entry but also through Forbes Border Post and we are prepared to accommodate them,” he said.
Rowa quarantine facility has the capacity to house 45 people
while FITC houses 46, Magamba 76 and Mutare Teachers College 150.
Other centres lined up to accommodate returning residents are Marymount Teachers College, with a capacity of 120, Mutare Poly (150), Hande High School in Buhera (44), Hotspring Resort in Chimanimani (29), Lydia Chimonyo High School in Chimanimani (54) and Simukai Child Protection Rehabilitation Centre.
Manicaland has been on high alert following reports that hundreds of returnees from abroad were supposed to come through Beira last week when a ship from the United States docked.
Minister of State for Manicaland Affairs and Devolution Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba said the ship had, however, not docked at Beira as planned as it had no authorisation and was redirected to South Africa.
The returnees who were travelling on the ship were expected in the country on May 7.
“We were expecting quite a number of people coming from outside Zimbabwe through Beira but we have had some communication with some people who were on board a ship coming from the United States.
“Initially they were supposed to dock at the Port of Beira but they didn’t have permission to do so and they had to go through South Africa. We have people at FITC and these people came from South Africa but I cannot confirm with certainty that they are part of the group who we were on the ship.
“We will need to devise a system to establish whether the people we are receiving through Beitbridge are coming from abroad or South Africa so that we know the exact situation we are likely to handle,” said Dr Gwaradzimba. The Herald