BY DARLINGTON MWASHITA
ESSENTIAL service workers in Bulawayo using Zupco buses to report to work have expressed concern over delays at police checkpoints, where some of them have even been allegedly assaulted by soldiers despite producing valid clearance letters.
Government last week tightened lockdown regulations following a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country, with police demanding exemption letters from those entering city centres.
The essential service workers, most of them in the health sector, said they were being frustrated by police and soldiers at roadblocks.
They said each route to the city centre had two to three roadblocks, where passengers are made to disembark from the bus and be checked.
A nurse at Mpilo Central Hospital said she was assaulted by soldiers on Tuesday while on her way home after work. She said the soldiers accused her of defying the curfew and refused to read her exemption letter.
Another nurse, who spoke on condition of anonymity, yesterday said she was driving home from work during curfew hours and was stopped by law enforcement agents.
“It was on Tuesday at around 7pm, I was on my way home driving still wearing my uniform and there was a car parked at a certain yard outside the gate, and another coming from the opposite direction which was a police vehicle with soldiers and police officers,” the nurse said.
“The soldiers jumped from their vehicle and attended the car which was parked while the others approached my vehicle. I lowered the window with no fear as the soldiers approached and asked where I was coming from. I produced my exemption letter, but the soldiers refused to read it.
“The soldier, who was attending the other vehicle came, assaulted and released me. I filed a report at Tshabalala Police Station.”
The nurse said she had since engaged the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to take legal action against the soldiers.
Another essential service worker said the law enforcement agents at roadblocks were now seeking more detailed documentation signed by an employee’s chief executive officer or general manager and the process was time consuming.
“Authorities should deploy a police officer in every Zupco bus to check for the required exemption letters when boarding instead of everyone being required to disembark at every roadblock for check-up,” an essential worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube declined to comment on the matter yesterday.
Zupco Southern region manager Tinaye Rusawako said he was not aware that essential service workers were being delayed at checkpoints.