Mother Luck literally eluded close to a dozen returnees who initially escaped from a Covid19 quarantine facility in Lupane before they were subsequently apprehended, and slapped with six-month prison sentences or alternatively, pay $2 000 fines which they did.
The eleven escapees who recently travelled from South Africa, were placed at Mabhikwa High School in Lupane, Matabeleland North province, and were yesterday convicted of contravening Section 6 (4)(b) of the Statutory Instrument 77/20, cited as the Public Health (Covid-19 prevention, containment and treatment regulations) 2020.
They include Methuseli Maphosa (27), Clever Mudenda (30), Isaac Lunga (31), all of Zyakamana Village and Nothani Simbuya (29), Costah Ngwenya (28), Limited Tshuma (26) of Chisawu Village, as well as Powerman Tshuma (29), Mlungisi Moyo (19) and Gift Tshuma (23) of Kokoloza Village, in Lusulu, Binga.
Babington Nkomo (29) and the only female escapee Sithandazile Sibanda (22) from Lubimbi also in Binga, constitute the convicted 11 who appeared before Lupane resident magistrate Ndumo Masuku.
The escapees were found guilty of self-removal from quarantine or containment centre without the knowledge or consent of an enforcement officer.
In his ruling, Masuku said escaping from a quarantine centre is a serious offence as typical actions were bound to put other citizens under Covid19 vulnerability.
State Prosecutor Clive Gumbo told the court that on May 17, the accused who were coming from South Africa were ordered to be detained at Mabhikwa High School quarantine centre in line with the current Covid19 regulations by Nelson Manyere, the enforcement officer stationed at Mabhikwa quarantine centre.
Gumbo said they escaped with their belongings on Tuesday last week around 3PM without clearance or permission of the enforcement officer.
Manyere, as the Mabhikwa enforcement officer made a police report upon realising that the 11 were missing and police tracked them to their homesteads, leading to the arrest of the returnees.
The latest developments come at a time when Zimbabwe’s much vaunted fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus faces a serious threat from high numbers of returnees escaping from selected quarantine centres across the country.
As of yesterday, statistics from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) indicated that 153 returnees have escaped from quarantine centres in the country since the inception of the lockdown.
Since March 30, Zimbabwe has been on a lockdown, which President Mnangagwa has since revised to a relatively relaxed Level 2. The country eagerly awaits Mnangagwa to announce the outcome of his Government’s Covid19 review, as he promised more than a fortnight ago.
The southern African nation has 178 confirmed Covid19 cases and recorded four deaths from the deadly pandemic.
Additional Reporting: Zwnews