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‘Shebeens’ Sprout While Vendors Defy Covid-19 Lockdown In Karoi

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent


POLICE in Hurungwe district have raised concern over the wanton disregard for new localised Covid-19 lockdown regulations to curtail the spread of the virus in the district.

District police commander, Chief Superintendent Helena Mahonde said Tuesday morning the police were worried at the sprouting of ‘shebeens’ in Karoi, where imbibers were gathering to drink alcohol violating the coronavirus restrictions imposed last week.

She revealed law enforcement agents had arrested scores of ‘shebeen’ operators while investigations were underway to bring to book a promoter who organised a potential Covid-19 ‘super-spreader’ musical show in the Tengwe area over the weekend.

“As the Zimbabwe Republic Police we are concerned over non-compliance to new localised lockdown measures following a sharp increase in new Covid-19 positive cases that resulted in Hurungwe and Kariba districts being categorised into red zones,” said Mahonde.

“Of particular concern is the emergence of ‘shebeens’. We have noted that when we arrest operators and shutdown illegal beer outlets, people are going to the outskirts of Karoi to set up ‘shebeens’ where revellers gather to drink beer,” said Mahonde.

The illegal drinking spots are rife in Mamwi, Nyama, Buffalo Downs, Zebra Downs, Nyambizi, and Delparte.

With Hurungwe and Kariba districts having been placed under localised lockdowns, it is evident more needs to be done to ensure total compliance.

At the weekend, this journalist travelled from Kariba to Karoi by bus and observed the flagrant disregard for Covid-19 regulations such as wearing of face masks, hand sanitsing, and physical distancing.

Bus crews were not enforcing regulations and neither were they hand sanitising passengers.

In Karoi, vendors defied orders by police to get off the streets and continued playing cat-and-mouse with only an unlucky handful being arrested.

Vendors who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com vowed to remain on the streets, arguing hawking was their only source of livelihood.

Law enforcement agents, however, maintained a heavy presence at the tobacco auction sales floors where there was sanity, orderliness, and enforcement of Covid 19 rules.

Police in the district have reiterated residents should avoid loitering while business operators were reminded to maintain orderliness at their premises to avoid crowding.

“We appeal to members of the public to comply with the set guidelines so that we fight the pandemic together and help Hurungwe come out of the red zone,” said Mahonde.

She warned the public that police will not stop at anything to ensure total compliance to stop the spread of Covid-19 in her jurisdiction.

The Health Ministry last week indefinitely placed Hurungwe and Kariba districts under strict lockdowns following an increase in Covid-19 positive cases recorded in the past week.

More than 48 new cases were reported prompting the Health ministry to activate total lockdowns on Hurungwe and Kariba in order to contain the further spread of the pandemic.

The new coronavirus infections, including among health workers, were recorded at Chidamoyo Mission Hospital and in Karoi.

Zimbabwe is currently under Level Three of lockdown restrictions, which allow for relaxed movement, longer working hours for businesses, including the informal sector, and a less restrictive night curfew.

Localised lockdowns are designed to contain the further spread of the pandemic in hotspot areas.

Kwekwe in Midlands province is the other town under such restrictions.