Namibia: Zambians Illegally Cross Into Namibia Despite Virus Threat

21 April 2020

Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu has expressed serious concern over some Zambian nationals illegally crossing into Namibia in search of food and other goods despite the national lockdown regulations put in place to combat COVID-19.

In a bustling border district, most residents of Sesheke and neighbouring Mwandi district journey to Katima Mulilo to buy groceries and other necessities because there is no departmental store in the two areas.

Sampofu said the law

enforcement authorities are struggling to control the illegal crossing of Zambian nationals into Namibia, despite borders of both countries closed due to COVID-19.

"We have a problem of illegal immigrants crossing from Zambia into Namibia via the river or on the dry port. They are coming to buy food and other goods. Taxis are transporting them to the borders to cross illegally.

Taxis should stop this practice. This disease is very serious. Any taxi caught will be impounded," Sampofu told New Era in an interview.

He appealed to taxis operators to desist from illegally transporting Zambian nationals, warning anyone found wanting will be charged for violating the state of emergency regulations.

Sampofu said the region is ready to enforce the lockdown regulations, especially on the movement of people unnecessarily.

He noted for those people living in the flood-prone areas of Kabbe and in Impalila, government has provided the Kapelwa Kabajani ferry to transport them via the river to Ngoma where they can get taxis to Katima Mulilo for essential services.

As a health measure, he said the ferry normally transport 60 passengers, but that has been limited to 30 people to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

He added the ferry has sanitisers on board for passengers.

Sampofu also said they have an agreement with the Namibian Defence Force to allow them to sell essential services to Impalila residents to avoid too much movement to Katima Mulilo.

Usually, Impalila residents and nearby villagers use to cross into Botswana to buy goods and services, but both borders have been closed since the Covid-19 outbreak.

He maintained that anyone travelling to Katima Mulilo in search of essential services or goods will require a permit.

He said there are clinics in the constituencies to assist those seeking medical attention.

However, he explained those with referral letters from the clinics to see a doctor in Katima Mulilo will be allowed to go through.

Sampofu said they have identified two isolation centres; namely Katima Mulilo clinic and Chotto clinic.

"We have an ICU unit at Katima Mulilo state hospital but it's not well equipped," he stated.

Further, he said pay points for senior citizens and those vulnerable are still operational, taking into consideration social distancing, but all sales at such points has been stopped.

On sale of alcohol, he warned residents to respect the state of emergency regulations and not sell liquor behind closed doors.

He said a man was arrested recently for brewing tombo in the bushes.

Zambezi chief regional officer, Regina Ndopu-Lubinda said as of yesterday, all businesses and markets approved to operate during lockdown period shall be required to close at 17h00, while filling station tuck shops should close by 19h00.

She directed that only fuelling at filling stations is allowed after the prescribed hours.

"This directive shall apply to all businesses in the Zambezi region. The police will enforce this directive and businesses are required to adhere. All businesses are required to continue adhering to the sanitary and hygiene measures and social distancing requirements as prescribed in the various regulations and directives for fighting COVID-19 pandemic," she said.

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