Bulawayo returnees raise  concern over detention

Jeffrey Muvundusi


©️  RETURNING residents at Bulawayo Polytechnic have raised concern over the way they have been treated since checking in at the quarantine centre.

Returnees who spoke to this publication yesterday complained of being over detained beyond the mandatory 21 days with some claiming to have clocked 43 days in the quarantine centre despite having been tested for coronavirus (Covid-19).
This comes following the government’s struggle to make test kits available, in a development that has seen returnees’ overstaying in the quarantine centres dotted around the country amid food shortages and other challenges.
“I was here on May 11 after returning from Botswana. We were told that we would be tested on the 8th day, but that did not happen and we only got to be tested on the 22nd day. By then, we had already overstayed. It was then discovered that one of us was positive and we were made to stay for eight more days. They were back on Friday where they started testing again, and only managed to test 40 people out of 290 people,” one inmate told the Daily News.
He added: “This place is equivalent to jail, the food is something else, some of us have chronic diseases and we have never received any medication despite all the assurance from the authorities here. To make matters worse, each time we try to complain, soldiers are ever-threatening us.”
The Daily News understands that the last batch of returnees was released from the Bulawayo Polytechnic on May 17.
One of the female inmates said they felt there was marginalisation of returnees in the second largest city.
“The people I came with from South Africa who were sent to different centres like Harare and Mutare have long been released yet today, I am clocking my 43rd day here. It’s really painful, why do people of Matabeleland continue to suffer like this?” she asked.
There were also fears that new returnees will infect those who have long stayed in the centre.
Bulawayo Provincial Affairs minister Judith Ncube said she had information to the effect that there was a group that was forced to stay longer after one of the inmates tested positive for Covid-19.
“I have spoken to the PMD. He says he doubts that there are returnees who have spent 35 days but there are those who have spent 28 days because when they were about to be released, the group that was tested one of them tested positive, so they were told to remain for eight days. That is the group we can say maybe has overstayed but the situation is being looked into,” she said.

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