Four returnees from South Africa, believed to have been recently released from prison, are now quarantined for an unspecified period in remand prison cells after their arrest for theft and violence while at a quarantine centre in Zimbabwe.
The three — Fanuel Mapaiki, Allen Mungai and Tinotenda Chigwande — were arrested for theft and unlawful entry, while Garikai Tawanda was arrested for attempted murder after stabbing another returnee with a pair of scissors.
The four had already been separated from the rest of the group they returned with after causing problems at Harare Polytechnic where the law-abiding returnees from the same bus loads were housed.
The four were moved into isolation at Prince Edward High School, but allegedly continued their criminal activities there.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrest of three of the returnees facing theft and unlawful entry charges.
“The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms the arrest of Fanuel Mapaiki (22), Allen Mungai (30) and Tinotenda Chigwande (25) on May 15 at Prince Edward Quarantine Centre,” the police said.
The three were charged with unlawful entry, have since appeared in court and were remanded in custody.
A fourth returnee, Garikai Tawanda, is accused of stabbing a fellow returnee.
He appeared in court on Saturday facing attempted murder charges and was remanded in custody to May 29.
Tawanda was not asked to plead to the charges when he appeared before magistrate Sheunesu Matowa. He complained in court that he was feeling pain in his ribs after being assaulted by police with batons, saying he needed medical attention. The court ordered the he be assisted with medication.
The State alleges that on May 15 at around 7pm Tawanda approached Munashe Razawo, who was also isolated at Price Edward School. It was said the two had a misunderstanding that ended up with Tawanda stabbing Razawo in the stomach several times before the latter was rushed to hospital.
The wayward behaviour of the four now in the remand cells reportedly started at Harare Polytechnic last week when authorities were forced to separate them from the rest of the returnees for rowdy conduct, with the quarantine officers in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare deciding to transfer the group to Prince Edward.
A source who was quarantined with the crew before their transfer said the group was unruly from the onset.
“These were people released from South African prisons straight into quarantine facilities, said the source. They were behaving in a weird way from the first day.
Women among returnees had to be taken to Girls High instead of Harare Polytechnic after some members of the group were making disturbing comments over their bodies on the bus.”
After arriving at Harare Polytechnic, the group, which was housed in Block D is alleged to have started stealing belongings from others in quarantine.
“Things were disappearing, and they were violent towards the rest of us, said the source. They had to be moved to Prince Edward.”
The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare confirmed there had been trouble.
Chief director in the Ministry, Mr Clifford Matorera said: “What happened is that they were moved from Harare Poly to Prince Edward. We could not risk mixing ex-convicts and those in quarantine voluntarily.
Some of the ex-convicts had been originally arrested in South Africa for rape, murder, robberies and other crimes. They needed to be monitored separately.
But at Prince Edward they allegedly started committing crimes, breaking into the housemaster’s house and stealing valuables from student lockers in the hostels they are housed in. They allegedly tried to steal from the deputy head and from teachers’ cars
Besides theft, there have been episodes of violence.
“We had to take one of the returnees to hospital after he had been stabbed by a scissors, said Mr Matorera. We do not know what the issue was about or where the attacker had got the weapon.”
The stabbed returnee was taken to hospital for treatment and is back at the quarantine facility where he is recovering.