Police intensify blitz on Covid-19 defaulters
Tendai Kamhungira and Vasco Chaya
THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Thursday night raided beer halls in Harare’s suburbs in enforcement of a government directive banning public gatherings of more than 50 people to mitigate the spread of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
Police national spokesperson Paul Nyathi, pictured, confirmed the development to the Daily News yesterday, saying the raids, which were mainly carried out in residential areas, including Mabelreign, were normal and meant to ensure the people’s safety.
“Basically, in Mabelreign, there were raids being carried out by the police. There were no clashes in these raids. The government is putting measures to contain the spread of the virus. We want to help enforce the ban imposed by the government.
“What we were doing last night (Thursday), we were dispersing people from bars and ensure that the bars are closed. The government said people should stop milling around night clubs, gyms, beer halls, swimming pools and churches,” Nyathi said.
The raids come after President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued a ban against public gatherings exceeding 50 people in churches, clubs, beer halls, among other areas.
Those found on the wrong side of the law, face up to one year in prison or a fine of $36 000 in terms of the new regulations.
According to Nyathi, the raids are also aimed at ensuring people are not robbed, especially in Harare’s Kuwadzana suburb, as people were being robbed after leaving bars.
“We want the people to comply and ensure that they do not go into bars and commit offences or be attacked by robbers. We know that some people decide to leave bars late in a bid to rob some targeted houses. The public should comply with the government directive to their safety and security,” Nyathi said.
While the police are commendable for the great job in reinforcing government measures on Covid-19, there are concerns that there are some pockets of mass gatherings that are left uninterrupted, these include bank and supermarkets queues in large cities such as Harare and Bulawayo. The large crowds pose great risk to the public health in case of a virus.
On Thursday afternoon, there was a large crowd of more than 300 people at Makombe Building queuing for national identities — passports and birth certificates among others — and there were no protective measures in place such as medical masks, gloves and hand sanitisers among others to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Issues of Covid-19 are being dealt with by various stakeholders and as the police, we act within our jurisdiction,” Nyathi said.