PANIC has gripped Plumtree after the border town recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 case on Sunday, amid reports that omalayitsha were aiding untested border jumpers from Botswana passing through rural areas to reach the town.

BY RICHARD MUPONDE

A prison guard at Plumtree prison has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been placed on self-isolation and the public has been banned from visiting the prison.

Villagers yesterday raised concern over the influx of untested border jumpers being aided by unscrupulous transport operators and cross-border transporters, omalayitsha, who were locked in the country after neighbouring South Africa went into lockdown.

They are reportedly transporting the border jumpers from remote areas such as Mbimba, Bambadzi, Subula and dropping them off in Plumtree town, where they mingle with locals in search of transport to their various destinations.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Bulilima West legislator Dingimuzi Phuti (Zanu PF) said the transporters were lured by the rand and pula which was readily available in the area.

“The problem is being caused by businessman with unregistered vehicles under the public service transporters, who are capitalising on the availability of rand and pula in our area. They are coming to our villages and aiding these illegal border jumpers which is dangerous for our people,” Phuti said.

“My office received a complaint from villagers in Mbimba and Bambadzi about the activities of these businesspeople, which means they are oblivious of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerned about these illegal activities.”

He urged security agents to bring suspected culprits to book .

“Ordinarily, this is the work of the security agents to enforce adherence to the conditions of lockdown. However, I bemoan that our borders are porous. Chiefs and headmen, as the local government, should be empowered to enforce adherence in their areas of jurisdiction. I also urge villagers not to let strangers mingle with them and report such people for vetting,” Phuti said.

Hundreds of locals returning from South Africa and Botswana were reportedly jumping the borders to avoid being quarantined since government has been failing to timeously COVID-19 tests on the returnees, who end up overstaying at the overcrowded quarantine centres.

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