By Silas Nkala
A traditional leader in Insiza, Matabeleland South, Chief Sibasa born Bekezela Sibanda yesterday implored the government to deploy soldiers to his area to enforce the lockdown and curfew.
The call follows reports of unruly youths moving around armed with machetes, knives and axes to drinking spots at night, terrorising villagers.
The traditional leader also disclosed that beer outlets were operating until midnight, and also lamented the sprouting of shebeens where a lot of mixing and mingling took place despite the 6pm to 6am curfew imposed by the government at the beginning of the month.
Insiza is one of the districts in Matabeleland South which have vast gold deposits and panners from various parts of the country have invaded the area in search of the previous metal.
Chief Sibasa said his area was experiencing lockdown violations mostly by youths and businesses disregarding the restrictive and containment measures against the pandemic.
“It appears these people now disregard and disrespect police officers,” Chief Sibasa said.
“We, on several instances, reported to the police asking them to conduct patrols and stop the activities, but at times they also say they have no transport to reach this area.
“We, at some point, suggested that the anti-riot police could be deployed to deal with these youths but all has not materialised.
“Now we appeal to the government to deploy soldiers, and we trust that just the appearance of soldiers in the area will scare away these youths and businessepeople and this will save us from a potential spike in COVID-19 cases in the district.”
He added: “As we speak, there is COVID-19, but people here do not adhere to set regulations and precautions.
“They do not wear masks, businesses do not close, they operate up to 12 midnight. The rogue youth make noise the whole night going around insulting people.
“They go around carrying machetes, knives and axes, they do not wear masks and they drink until morning
“As chiefs, we do not have power to control these activities. We recently called businesses for a meeting where we urged them to stop operating beyond stipulated times, but they told us their licences permit them to operate as they are still valid. They also said they ventured into business because it is their only way of sustaining their families.”
Government announced a second lockdown on January 5 which ends on February 5. Under the lockdown, only essential services providers are allowed to operate between 8am and 3pm, to add to the dusk-to-dawn curfew.
Beer outlets, public gatherings and churches are banned while funerals are limited to only 30 people.
On Wednesday, Matabeleland South police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena told the media that over 1 000 people had been arrested in the province’s seven districts for defying the lockdown regulations. NewsDay.