Soldiers, police set camp at restive quarantine centre

…as tensions rise over delayed results, corruption

By Moses Ziyambi

MASVINGO – Soldiers and riot police are now a constant sight at Masvingo Teachers’ College quarantine centre as a response to the increasing restlessness among people who are being kept there.

On May 29, tensions boiled over and a nurse was held hostage for several hours after authorities had released only 33 people whose COVID-19 test results had come out negative.

The rest of the people demanded their own results and blocked the nurse who had been sent to call the names from leaving.

The previous day, inmates had blocked a health ministry vehicle from leaving, alleging that authorities were corruptly facilitating the release of results of people who came to the centre later while sidelining those who have spent over 21 days there.

They complain their continued detention exposes them to even greater risk of catching coronavirus, saying the centre is the source of at least 12 of the 25 new cases recorded in Masvingo province last week.

They say there are good grounds to believe most of those who tested positive were negative when they got admitted, but contracted the virus at the centre.

“The place is poorly-managed; almost 300 of us go to the dining hall at the same time and up to 15 people share a bucket in the bathroom. Meanwhile police officers are making money here by selling food items and cigarettes to some inmates,” said a source.

Many people who are kept there have spent more than the mandatory 21 days of quarantine as they have not yet received test results.

No official comment could be obtained because Provincial Medical Director (PMD) Amadeus Shamu hardly answers calls from journalists nowadays and if he does, he gives the same lame excuse of being ‘in a meeting’ over and over again.


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