Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
Police at roadblocks will now be seeking more detailed documentation signed by an employee’s chief executive officer or general manager so that those legitimately going to work in an essential service or an exempted business can pass with the minimum of fuss.
While no regulations have been gazetted detailing any requirements to pass through a roadblock, only the lists of those who are allowed to go to and from work, the police as the enforcement arm of the lockdown regulations have been accepting letters from employers as proof that a person is working in an essential service or an exempted business and have been allowing them through without further follow-ups.
However, the police suspect that forged letters have been used and that some of those with genuine letters have been using them for social purposes as well. So they now want more details, including contact numbers and details of shift work, to allow people to pass through a roadblock without further investigations.
The police have a legal duty to enforce the lockdown regulations but to minimise inconvenience to the exempted members of the public have put in place procedures from the very beginning of the lockdown, so only those against whom there is strong suspicion of breaching the rules face long delays or charges.
Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 confirmed total hit 2 434 on Saturday with another 138 confirmed cases, 128 of them infections within Zimbabwe, with two further deaths taking the toll of fatalities to 34.
The daily report from the Ministry of Health and Child Care said the two fatalities were institutional deaths in Bulawayo and Mashonaland Central. To balance this, so far 518 of Zimbabwe’s confirmed patients have fully recovered.
Bulawayo is still the most heavily hit province with 587 local infections and 16 deaths, but Harare is catching up with 488 local infections and 10 deaths. Midlands now has 147 local infections and three deaths.
South Africa now has now recorded 6 655 deaths from 434 200 confirmed cases.
In listing required documents, police have said journalists are allowed to pass through the checkpoints using their Zimbabwe Media Commission press cards, with the 2019 ones still valid.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said yesterday that if journalists encounter any problems they should get in touch with the officers commanding provinces or the Police General Headquarters.
For those in the health sector, he said, they should be in uniform with their identity cards on them while those in civilian attire should have a letter from their medical superintendent or chief executive officer stating place, dates and times of reporting on and off duty. The contact details of the chief executive officer should also be indicated on the letter.
“For companies or organisations, employees should have letters from the chief executives or general managers stating the place, days and times of reporting on and off duty. The contact details of the chief executive officer should also be indicated on the letter.
“Ministries and parastatals at national level need an exemption letter from directors and above stating the duty, place, days and times of reporting. At provincial level, an exemption letter from the provincial head stating the duty, place, days and times of reporting. The letter should also indicate contact details of the responsible person,” Asst Comm Nyathi said.
“Commercial farmers should have an offer letter or lease agreement and an exemption letter certificate from their local police officer in charge while communal farmers should have a supporting letter from the headman or village head stating the business to be done, the date, time, place and an exemption letter from the officer in charge. The contact details of headman or village head to be indicated,” Asst Comm Nyathi said.
Food retailers and sole traders should have certified copies of a shop licence and an exemption letter from the police.
Those in private security services should have uniforms, company IDs and letter from management.
People seeking medicines and medical supplies should have medical cards or prescriptions and, if possible, contact details of the doctor responsible.
For those intending to attend funerals, the concerned relatives should produce a copy of a burial order to a local police station and the officers in charge, officer commanding district and officers commanding provinces should issue exemption letters showing destination and dates of movement to those who intend to bury relatives in other towns and rural areas.
Right from the beginning of the lockdown at the end of March, members of the public were expected to travel no more than 5km to buy basic necessities like food, gas and medicine. They can travel further if the required goods are not within 5km, under the lockdown regulations.
The public should also make prior arrangements to obtain assistance for themselves or someone to whom they are related or have a duty of caring for.
“This includes an ill person whom they are related to or care for for purposes of rendering medical assistance or provide for, said Asst Comm Nyathi.
The police reminded the public that there is a 6pm to 6am curfew and so they should conduct permitted activities between the hours of 6am to 6pm.
Workers in essential services, but not exempted ordinary businesses, are allowed to travel to and from work and home during the curfew and deliveries of essential goods are permitted at night.
Asst Comm Nyathi added: “The observance of the national lockdown measures will promote the effective maintenance of law and order by police and other security services.”
Last Friday, police commanders countrywide were directed to intensify the enforcement of lockdown regulations, resulting in a number of people being turned away from Harare city centre if they failed to present employment exemption letters or medical documents to warrant being outdoors.
Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga said the intensification of enforcement was designed to protect people from Covid-19 and warned that those who wilfully breached the regulations would face the wrath of the law.
He said citizens were reminded to be home by 6pm, adding that there would be no excuses for non-compliance, except for those who will be providing essential services.
He reminded exempted businesses that they should only operate between 8am and 3pm and made it clear that commuter omnibus operators, bottle stores, shebeen operators and anyone else who violates the regulations will be arrested.
Private transporters, especially those that own kombis, have been removing registration numbers or putting private registration number plates so that they carry passengers early morning and in the evening, in contravention of lockdown regulations, which indicate that only Zupco buses are allowed to carry fare-paying passengers.
Said Comm-Gen Matanga: “Kombis, which are removing number plates and carrying passengers in violation of Covid-19 regulations will be impounded, with the owners facing stern action.”
On Friday, in a further gazetted amendment to the lockdown regulations, enforcement officers, basically the police, are permitted to seize any vehicle used for illegal fare-paying passenger services if such vehicle is used again after the driver has been warned or charged. Effectively the regulations now allow seizure as an exhibit in a criminal case the second time it is found picking up paying passengers.