Scores of Bulawayo residents were on Wednesday rounded up by police for violating the national lockdown regulations, as police intensified their operations to enforce the order in the city.
Prior to launching the dragnet, police officers had embarked on awareness campaigns in different parts of the city warning residents to adhere to the lockdown order or risk being arrested.
The residents who were picked up from various points were bundled into police trucks and taken to the Bulawayo Central Police station.
They were reportedly charged with conduct likely to provoke breach of peace and were made to pay ZWL$200 fine.
Another group was said to have been charged for violating Statutory Instrument 2020-083 Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020.
However, when contacted for a comment, Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said those who had been picked up were later released.
“I don’t have the figures, as I am not in the office but the residents were told to go home and heed the lockdown,” he said.
Inspector Ncube confirmed no charged were laid against the suspects.
“There were no charges laid against them, not to my knowledge,” he insisted.
Pictures of the suspects which went viral on social media platforms drew wide spread criticism from a cross section of users who accused the police of failing to observe the social distancing protocols and handling a large group of people without protective clothing.
A survey conducted by CITE on the fourth day of the lockdown showed that a lot of people were still not observing the lockdown order especially in the residential areas.
At some supermarkets in the western areas, there were long queues of people buying mealie meal.
182 people have so far been arrested throughout the country for violating lockdown regulations such as public drinking, operating shebeens and disorderly conduct.
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology (CITE)