A Total of 875 people have been arrested countrywide on Day Five of the national lockdown for violating anti-Covid-19 regulations, at a time when police are raising concerns on “lockdown house parties” which have become a hit.
In major cities, people are reported to be binge drinking and throwing parties in their houses, where substance abuse is the order of the day. At the said parties, children are exposed to fumes from dangerous drugs and cigarette smoke which is dangerous as passive smoking has detrimental health effects. When reporters toured some Bulawayo suburbs, it established that most residents were beginning to heed the call to stay at home and follow the lockdown regulations as gazetted by Government.
Interviews also showed that people were shaken by the alarming increase in global statistics of confirmed cases which have shot past the one million mark, while nine cases and one death have been confirmed in the country. Although the generality of people are complying with the regulations, some people continue to flout the Government directive as scores have been seen roaming aimlessly in the central business district (CBD) and residential areas. Police road blocks continued to be in full forces as scores of people where forced to return to their locations after they were deemed to be making unnecessary trips to the central business district. The Zimbabwe United Passenger Company was also transporting essential staff only to work stations as members of the public were advised to get essentials from places within a 5km radius from their homes.
In a telephone interview yesterday, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the police force was pleased that people were beginning to heed the call to stay at home although he highlighted there were still some rogue elements who continue to disregard regulations. He said there was a new trend of house parties where people were converging at homes to drink alcohol, flouting laws on social distancing and public gatherings.
“We continue to be in full force across the country and have observed that people are now heeding the call. Generally, people are now complying. The volume of traffic on the roads is also decreasing, showing signs of compliance,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He warned people hosting house parties that they would face the wrath of the law if they did not stop their shenanigans.
“However, we note with concern the growing trend of house parties where people are converging in homes and breaking laws on public gatherings and flouting social distancing and lockdown orders. We, therefore, warn members of the public against these as we will be descending on them without further notice,” he said. Meanwhile in Gweru, residents have continued to defy Government’s lockdown directive and vehicular and human traffic are increasing in the central business district.
Yesterday people were crowded at undesignated pick-up and drop off points like the Gweru City Council offices along the Gweru-Bulawayo Road, Amtec and Cathedral looking for intercity transport. In most high-density suburbs, people were going about their usual business.
At Ascot Mtapa and Mambo suburbs, residents blamed Gweru City Council’s failure to provide water, for their failure to fully comply with the lockdown order. Some residents were also seen milling around bottle stores after failing to purchase alcohol from supermarkets which have stopped selling the product
“We have gone for two months without water and it is difficult for us to stay home. We would want to stay indoors but we are compelled to go to boreholes to queue for water because our council has failed to provide us with water. The local authority itself is partially to blame for people’s failure to comply,” said a resident.
Midlands Minister of State Larry Mavhima said the Provincial Joint Operation Command (JOC) will intensify a crackdown on defiant residents. “We are also concerned with what has been happening. We are beefing up security to ensure full compliance,” he said.