The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube and Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday News Reporters
POLICE on Tuesday were in full force in Bulawayo enforcing the 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
President Mnangagwa on Friday announced the 21-day lockdown to manage the pandemic which has infected more than 500 000 people globally.
A Sunday News crew on Tuesday toured a number of suburbs in the city and observed a high police presence, from road blocks to patrols with police officers educating people on the pandemic, emphasizing the need for residents to stay at home.
A number of motorists were observed being turned back at road blocks after failing to convince the law enforcement officers of their reasons for travelling.
At Emganwini shopping center the only major queue that was there was that of gas, however the would-be buyers were observing the one-meter social distancing directive.
It was only at Nketa 6 shopping Centre were the police present had to call for backup as there was a near stampede as residents queued for mealie-meal.
The two shops at the center that were selling the mealie-meal had to stop selling after police raised a red flag regarding the overcrowding at the centre.
“What we have done is that we have stopped the selling of the mealie meal for today (Tuesday), we will now approach it from a different perspective where the residents’ association will now play a lead role in the process.
“Tomorrow (Wednesday) the mealie meal will now be sold as per ward squares, led by the square leaders. This will ensure that the process is smooth sailing and people observe the social distancing directive,” said ward 24 residents’ association chairperson, Mr Wingsley Nhliziyo.
This news crew also visited one of the oldest suburbs in the city, Makokoba, and observed that people were going about their normal businesses. Although the major trading points in the suburb like Mkambo, Renkini bus terminus and the beer gardens in the suburb were closed, people could be seen converging at some illegal drinking spots in the suburb.
Makokoba MP, Alderman James Sithole said there was a need for enforcement officials to be more visible not only to disperse the gatherings but to educate the residents on the dangers of COVID-19.
“It is worrying that people seem to be relaxed especially in the high-density suburbs, I believe more still has to be done in terms of educating our citizens on the dangers of this pandemic. As a nation we cannot be honestly caught off-guard, we must heed the lockdown call so that after these 21 days we could have contained this pandemic as a nation,” said Ald Sithole.
The pandemic, first reported in China in December 2019 has spread rapidly throughout the world, forcing many countries to enforce shutdowns in a bid to halt new infections.
The virus thrives where people are crowded and already almost 25 000 deaths have been recorded while about 120 000 have successfully recovered.