POLICE have arrested 40 682 people for violating Covid-19 lockdown regulations as the Government steps up efforts to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
The national lockdown started on March 30. Police have since set up numerous checkpoints and roadblocks across the country and introduced patrols targeting people and motorists breaching the restrictions.
Last Sunday alone, 1 219 people were arrested in separate incidents countrywide.
Most of those arrested were in violation of movement restrictions.
Fourteen were arrested for liquor related offences, 43 under the Road Traffic Act, 68 for opening businesses without exemption letters, 754 for unnecessary movements, 15 for gathering, 274 for failing to wear masks, while 61 for violating the Miscellaneous Offences Act. Some of the suspects were fined amounts ranging between $200 and $500, while others are expected to appear in court soon.
Government recently gazetted a law compelling all people to wear face masks in public.
In terms of new health regulations gazetted recently, those who fail to wear masks face punitive action or imprisonment of up to one year.
National Police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi also warned haulage truck drivers who are giving lifts to people travelling between cities, within cities, and even some border jumpers.
“Besides being a criminal offence, this act poses a risk to the Government’s efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. Police checkpoints, roadblocks and patrols have been activated to account for such drivers. Haulage trucks should stick to their mandate of transporting cargo/goods from one point to the other. Transport companies are implored to take action against errant drivers,” he said.
He warned that police would remain firm on the ground to ensure that there is law and order. Said Ass Comm Nyathi: “Police arrested 274 people across the country yesterday for not wearing face masks in public. Wearing of masks in public is now a legal requirement and we have been urging members of the public to be compliant with the new health regulations but there are some people who are disregarding this and not taking our messages seriously. We continue to urge the nation to always adhere to the set Covid-19 regulations. We also remind the nation that the police are there to enforce the law and those caught on the wrong side of the law will be arrested.”
In a related matter, police have launched investigations into a case in which 232 people at Belvedere Isolation Centre on Saturday staged a demonstration at the institution.
Ass Comm Paul Nyathi confirmed that they were investigating the case and would release a comprehensive statement soon.
“There was a demonstration at the isolation centre in which a group of people quarantined there put soil in sadza plates as a way of airing their grievances to the authorities.
“Police were informed and reacted swiftly. No one was injured during the demonstration. We have since launched an investigation into the incident,” he said.
According to reports, the group of returning Zimbabweans currently quarantined at Belvedere Teachers’ College in Harare on Saturday staged a demonstration against a requirement for them to each pay a private medical facility US$65 for compulsory Covid-19 testing.
There were reports that operations at the quarantine facility were briefly stopped as demonstrators demanded answers on why they were required to pay such a huge amount when the screening was supposed to be free of charge.
The demonstration was staged between 10am and 4pm and it only ended after the intervention of officials from relevant Government ministries.