Frighteningly ignorant inhabitants of Makepesi Village in Lower Gweru, Midlands Province, are being blamed for the stigmatisation, abuse and violence that has befallen the family of a truck driver who has been self-isolating for the deadly Covid19 (coronavirus) pandemic at his homestead in the area.
This comes barely a few days after a teenage son to the truck driver, who has since tested negative to Covid19, was last Sunday assaulted by villagers who subscribe to the wrongful conviction that his family members will spread the dreaded pandemic in Lower Gweru.
According to state media reports, Makepesi villagers are now making demands for the immediate relocation of the confirmed Covid19 negative truck driver’s family from their area to ‘stop the spread’ of coronavirus in the village which falls under the jurisdiction of Chief Chisadza.
Resultantly, the family now stays indoors and cannot even buy foodstuffs and basic commodities at the shops for fear of further victimisation.
It is alleged that the driver arrived in his native village last Friday for mandatory isolation, at the instigation of health authorities.
But, Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister, Larry Mavima yesterday confirmed that the driver, who cannot be named for patient confidentiality reasons, has since tested negative for Covid19.
“The man tested negative and you can get details from Dr (Reginald) Mhene (Midlands Provincial Medical Director and provincial Covid-19 taskforce epidemiology and technical services chairperson),” Minister Mavima said.
When contacted for comment, Dr Mhene expressed ignorance over the issue.
“I don’t have details as yet. Am looking for the details,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lower Gweru’s Chief Chisadza confirmed the arrival of the driver in Makepesi village and concurrently blasted his ‘ignorant’ subjects for stigmatising the truck driver’s family and also thinking that ‘being Covid19 positive is a death sentence’.
“Yes, we had a meeting with health officials with regards to the driver. He is at his home but the challenge is stigmatisation. But what I know is that health officers came and assessed his home before they brought him which on its own should mean that he is not a danger to the community. The villagers lack knowledge because they think that being Covid19 positive is a death sentence,” Chief Chisadza said.
The traditional leader also conceded that, while he has not ‘seen’ any abuse and discrimination being perpetrated upon members of the family, he had ‘heard’ about last Sunday’s physical assault on the truck driver’s teenage son.
“Now, for fear of abuse or discrimination they are staying indoors and can’t even go to the shops or to fetch water or firewood. I appeal for this family to be assisted,” he said.
Chief Chisadza also added that there was need for the Zimbabwe Government to, not only educate villagers on the Covid19 pandemic, but also help the affected family with food and other basic commodities to overcome their current precarious situation birthed by prevalent stigmatisation.
Additional Reporting: Zwnews