Lockdown: Dealers cash in on fake exemption letters

By Philemon Jambaya

UNCOUTH and unscrupulous opportunists countrywide are capitalising on the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions to make a killing through the sale of fake exemption letters, Zim Morning Post can reveal.

Reports reaching this publication indicate that the fake letters dealers have a ready market for their product, which they sell to desperate entrepreneurs and others.

Some of the recipients of these letters are said to operate very lucrative businesses in most of the country’s central business districts (CBDs).

The initial COVID-19 induced 21-day national lockdown decreed on March 30 had stringent travel restrictions attached to them.

These restrictions were in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s guidelines.

In order to ensure strict adherence to the WHO guidelines, goverment deployed a heavy presence of security forces in most CBDs and highways across the country.

But the alleged fake letters have come as a game changer and relief to many who had seen the restrictions as a hindrance to doing business.

“As you may know, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced what he called essential services, and these guys manufacture letterheads of companies that fall under specialised industries and sell them for at least US$10,” explained one beneficiary who said he had not encountered any challenges using them at police roadblocks.

This reporter posed as a potential client to one of the dealer’s adverts placed on social media.

Prices applicable to the fake letters ranged from between US$10 to US$40, depending on one’s industry and occupation of choice.

The dealer in question’s name was Arron Makununika of Travel Solution Master, going by his mobile money transfer platform’s EcoCash account.

The letters are delivered at the client’s doorstep.

“This practise shows people can do anything for money.

“We have a health crisis and someone is scheming of making profit while also exposing their clients to some health hazards.

“What do people lose if they stay at home until this storm is over?” said a concerned citizen whose close relative he said had contracted COVID-19 in the capital.

National police spokesperson Paul Nyathi could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, the lockdown was last week extended by a further two weeks, which will expire on May 3.

Currently, the country has recorded 25 COVID-19 cases and four deaths.

Zim Morning Post