By Leonard Ncube
Eleven people who escaped from Mabhikwa High School in Lupane where they had been quarantined after returning from South Africa have each been fined $2 000.
Mabhikwa High School is one of the provincial quarantine centres identified to accommodate returnees during the Covid-19 pandemic period in line with lockdown regulations imposed by the country.
The 11 are Methuseli Maphosa (27), Clever Mudenda (30), Isaac Lunga (31), all of Zyakamana Village and Nothani Simbuya (29), Costah Ngwenya (28), Limited Tshuma (26) of Chisawu Village, as well as Powerman Tshuma (29), Mlungisi Moyo (19) and Gift Tshuma (23) of Kokoloza Village, in Lusulu, Binga.
The others are Babington Nkomo (29) and Sithandazile Sibanda (22) from Lubimbi also in Binga. Sibanda is the only female among the 11.
They were all found guilty of self-removal from quarantine or containment centre without the knowledge or consent of an enforcement officer when they appeared before Lupane resident magistrate Mr Ndumo Masuku yesterday.
The offence is a violation of Section 6 (4)(b) of the Statutory Instrument 77/20, cited as the Public Health (Covid-19 prevention, containment and treatment regulations) 2020.
Each was fined $2 000 or six months in jail.
Mr Masuku said escaping from a quarantine centre is a serious offence as doing so exposes other citizens to possible Covid-19 infection.
In mitigation, the 11 said they escaped because they were hungry owing to a shortage of food at the quarantine centre.
Prosecuting, Mr Clive Gumbo said the 11 persons were supposed to remain at the centre until they were tested or cleared by health officials or enforcement officer.
“On the 17th of May the accused who were coming from South Africa were ordered to be detained at Mabhikwa High School quarantine centre in terms of Section 6 (1)(b) of the Statutory Instrument 77/20, cited as the Public Health (Covid-19 prevention, containment and treatment regulations) 2020 by Mr Nelson Manyere, the enforcement officer stationed at Mabhikwa quarantine centre,” said Mr Gumbo.
The prosecutor said they escaped with their belongings on Tuesday last week around 3PM without clearance or permission of the enforcement officer.
A report was made to the police by Mr Manyere who had noticed that the 11 were missing. Investigations led to their arrest at their homesteads.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday said 153 returnees have escaped from quarantine centres in the country since the inception of the lockdown.
He urged members of the public to report any activities that jeopardise security measures that have been enacted to safe guard the nation from the Covid-19 pandemic on +263 2703631 or WhatsApp number +263 712800197. The Chronicle