Hundreds detained in Zimbabwe for breaking lockdown rules

02 April 2020 - 18:20 By Lenin Ndebele and John Ncube
Zimbabwean police in Harare and other cities have detained hundreds of people for contravening regulations imposed for the 21-day lockdown in the country.
Zimbabwean police in Harare and other cities have detained hundreds of people for contravening regulations imposed for the 21-day lockdown in the country.
Image: Cecil Dzwowa/123rf.com

Police have detained hundreds of people for contravening regulations imposed for the 21-day lockdown in Zimbabwe — with a journalist facing up to a year in jail.

While Thursday's figures have not yet been released, information minister Monica Mutsvanga said that 185 people were arrested on Wednesday, mostly shebeen operators  or patrons of those shebeens.

“Citizens continue to struggle in practising social distancing,” she said.

Sources from police in Bulawayo told TimesLIVE that about 200 people were arrested on Thursday.

Freelance journalist Nunurai Jena, 55, was charged with contravening section 11(a) of the Public Health (Covid-19), Prevention, Containment and Treatment (National Lockdown) Order 2020, and with disorderly conduct as defined in section 41(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

He was arrested while making a video recording of some police officers who were manning a checkpoint set up long the Chinhoyi-Chegutu highway road.

Police claimed that Jena insulted the law enforcement officers and accused them of corruption. He was scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

The officers claimed that he recorded video footage of them checking and educating some pedestrians and motorists about the carrying and moving of people as stipulated in regulations gazetted by the government earlier this week to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The filming was reportedly without the consent of police officers.

In the country’s major cities, police rounded up people who they felt failed to explain why they were in the central business district (CBD). Those that were found in the wrong paid a fine of ZW$200.

“I was arrested in a mealie meal queue. At first the police complained about the ‘one metre distancing’ but people didn’t bother listening. They loaded us into a truck but along the way they decided to let us go. However, one man tried to be funny, he ran away but they caught him barely 50m away. That’s when they decided to arrest us,” said a man who had just been bailed from Bulawayo Central police station.

Those boarding public transport back home are questioned by the police as part of regulating unwarranted travel.


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