BY SILAS NKALA
RURAL communities in Matabeleland provinces have taken it upon themselves to curb the increase in imported COVID-19 cases by apprehending returnees from South Africa and Botswana sneaking into the country through porous borders.
A survey conducted by Habakkuk Trust in border-lying districts of Gwanda, Matobo and Bulilima has established that communities have established vigilante groups to monitor human traffic in their communities.
“Community members in these areas have come up with surveillance mechanisms to detect movement into the community with an interest in people coming from neighbouring Botswana and South Africa,” part of the report read.
“In addition to the surveillance mechanisms, communities in some areas have also developed reporting mechanisms that ensure a timely response from the relevant authorities,” the survey noted.
The trust reported that a week ago, communities in Bulilima ward 10 successfully stopped commuter omnibuses that were ferrying border jumpers from Botswana to Bulawayo.
The report also claimed that Matobo ward 10 communities had also resolved to exclude pregnant women, the elderly and youths from attending funerals to protect them from COVID-19.
“They also selected a COVID-19 surveillance team to ensure adherence to COVID-19 regulations and the implementation of community measures,” said the trust.
“Gwanda COVID-19 rapid response team spent the day in ward 4 looking for a returnee who reportedly used an illegal entry point, skipping mandatory quarantine and screening process.”
The sharp increase in local infections in the country has been attributed to illegal returnees and quarantine escapes. To date, Zimbabwe has recorded 3 245 local infections out of
4 339 cases.