On Saturday 6 June 2020 which marked day 69 of the national lockdown declared by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and has been in place since 30 March 2020, the Ministry of Health and Child Care reported an increase in the number of confirmed cases increased to two hundred and seventy-nine (279). The number of cumulative tests done stood at fifty-two thousand seven hundred and twenty-five (52 725). Of these, fifty-two thousand four hundred and forty-six (52 446) were negative. The number of recoveries increased to thirty-three (33) and the death toll remains at four (4). 2.0 Methodology
Information contained in this report is derived from the following Forum Members:
Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP)
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
Counselling Services Unit (CSU)
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)
Excerpts from reports generated by Habakkuk Trust, The Herald and Bulawayo24 have also been incorporated into this report. 3.0 Emerging issues 3.1 Lockdown Enforcement
In Harare’s high-density suburb of Dzivarasekwa, police officers confiscated an exemption letter from Clice Ngalangala at a check point along Bulawayo road. Reports indicate that the police officers told Ngalangala, a farm employee in Mutoko that his job is not essential during the lockdown. The police officers then confiscated his exemption letter and turned him away. This incident marks yet another example by the police. Police should have arrested him instead of taking the law into their hands as they did.3.2 General Updates
In Umzingwane District at Mawabeni and Sigola Shopping Centres, some night clubs were open till the morning of 7 June 2020. Social distance and the mandatory wearing of face masks were not observed. Though police officers were made aware of the situation by whistle-blowers, no one was arrested and the patrons were not dispersed.At Zezani in Beitbridge, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare distributed maize to the vulnerable, people with disabilities, elderly people and the less privileged people. The distribution was done in a partisan manner. A few people were putting on face masks including the distribution team. Those that had come wearing party regalia of any political outfit were turned away.The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has removed the COVID-19-induced solemnisation of marriages moratorium. The announcement was made through the Chief Justice (CJ) Luke Malaba’s Practice issued on 6 June 2020, which advised that the solemnisation of marriages can now be conducted but parties should follow lockdown rules and regulations which include social distancing. However, only the parties to the marriage and their witnesses shall be allowed to attend solemnisation of marriages at the Civil Courts.3.3 Mandatory quarantine
In our previous update, we reported that the Forum was handling a matter of returnees based at Prince Edward High School who alleged that they have been in quarantine for a cumulative twenty-eight (28) days and are yet to be tested. The returnees reported that they had been advised that they would be tested on the 8th day of isolation and if negative would be allowed to go and self-quarantine at their homes. However, on the 8th day, they were moved from Harare Polytechnic where they were initially isolated to Prince Edward High School. Of major concern are reports that some of the returnees are on chronic medication which has since runout. The Forum reported that it had brought the issue to the attention of responsible authorities and had threatened litigation. The Ministry of Health and Child Care responded by organising that the returnees got tested on 6 June 2020. They were promised their results within 3 to 4 days.
In Mashonaland East, it was reported that a 29-year old man who had been in Hungwiri Village for 4 days after returning from SA through an illegal crossing point was apprehended by law enforcement agents from Juru Police Station. The returnee was taken to Marondera High School Quarantine Centre.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana reported that three (3) buses from South Africa carrying Zimbabwean returnees arrived on 6 June 2020. The buses were carrying one hundred and forty-seven (147) returnees from different parts of South Africa (Johannesburg – 79; Free State – 22; Northwood – 46). The returnees are yet to be transferred to quarantine centres in their respective provinces.
Mr Mangwana also reported that Mupfure Quarantine Centre in Chegutu released sixteen (16) returnees. One of the returnees who tested positive to COVID-19 is in isolation at Chegutu Hospital. The remaining seventy-nine (79) returnees are yet to be tested. Mr Mangwana also reported that one of the senior official at Belvedere Quarantine Centre was fired for soliciting bribes from returnees.
The government released a list of people who escaped from quarantine centres. The list of the escaped returnees is as follows:
6.0 Court Update
Police have now charged the MDC Alliance co-vice presidents, Tendai Biti, Lynette Karenyi-Kore, and five other senior party officials who were arrested on 5 June 2020 outside the Morgan Richard Tsvangirai House initially on allegations of the violating the lockdown regulations. Biti and Karenyi-Kore appeared in court on 6 June 2020 together with Gladys Hlatshwayo who is secretary for international relations and her deputy Lovemore Chinoputsa, party’s deputy secretary general David Chimhini, deputy youth assembly spokesperson Womberayi Nhende, and Vongai Tome. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights reported that initially the leaders were charged with disorderly conduct, but the charge was later changed to criminal nuisance under sec 46 as read with paragraph 2 (5) (v) of the Third Schedule to the Criminal Code. The Forum is concerned that the charges for breaking lockdown regulations appear to have been added as an afterthought, and therefore police are using lockdown measures to restrict human rights unjustifiably.
The Forum is concerned with the increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in quarantine centres. The increasing numbers point to a likelihood of the spread of COVID-19 within the quarantine centres. The Forum therefore calls on the Ministry of Health and Child Care to review the conditions in the quarantine centres.
The Forum further reiterates its calls citizens to observe COVID-19 regulations to curb the spread of the pandemic.