Zimbabwe: 10 Returnees Escape, 857 Kombis Impounded

Another 10 returnees, two of them Covid-19 positive, escaped from quarantine centres on Monday while police have impounded 857 kombis in a major blitz for operating in defiance of lockdown regulations.

The two Covid-19 positive returnees escaped from Pangani Training Centre in Matabeleland South, with another seven escaping from Bulawayo Polytechnic and the 10th from Mushagashe Training Centre in Masvingo.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said yesterday that the 10 brought the total of escapees to 204, with only 28 arrested so far.

"Of concern is the manner in which these people are escaping from these centres and police are, however, investigating the circumstances.

"We believe that they are taking advantage of the porous security fences and walls at some of these institutions and other surroundings that don't have lights," he said.

Last night, the Ministry of Health and Child Care announced another 54 confirmed cases bringing the total to 787. Of these 19 were returnees and 34 local cases, although 29 of the local cases were contacts of known patients. Recoveries have reached 201.

In a major blitz against kombis outside Zupco management, police have impounded 857 kombis since Friday.

Owners of around 1 000 kombis have seen their vehicles integrated into the Zupco fleet, but others have put their vehicles back onto the road.

Pirate kombis charge two to three times the approved Zupco kombi fares.

According to police, some of the drivers of pirate kombis were fined, while others are expected to appear in court.

Asst Comm Nyathi said police would not release the kombis that they impounded, even if the driver escaped with a fine.

He said of the 857 impounded kombis, 98 were in Gweru, 153 in Mashonaland West, 244 in Harare, 91 in Manicaland, 35 in Matabeleland South, 148 in Masvingo, 54 in Mashonaland East, 11 in Matabeleland North and 23 in Bulawayo.

"Yesterday (Monday), for instance, 353 kombis were impounded for operating outside the law.

"We are concerned that these errant kombi operators are exposing people to Covid-19, as they are not following the law. Most of them are even travelling at night, while others are using feeder roads, which are in bushy areas," Asst Comm Nyathi said.

Traffic police would remain deployed to arrest pirate taxi and kombi drivers picking up and carrying passengers.

In the 15 weeks since the start of the lockdown, 92 346 people have been arrested countrywide since March 30 for violating lockdown regulations, with almost all paying admission of guilt fines, although more serious offenders go to court.

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