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Returnees complain of overstaying, ‘bad food’ at quarantine centres

Inmates at some of the quarantine centres in Bulawayo are complaining of overstaying beyond the mandatory 21 days with some claiming to have been detained for 35 days without being tested for Covid-19.

Speaking to CITE, one of the inmates at Bulawayo Polytechnic claimed some of them have been at the centre for more than a month.    

“We have overstayed in these quarantine centres; we have even exceeded the mandatory days because we were told that we will stay for 21 days but we have here for about 35 days. We are not being attended to and no official has been here to address us on the way forward,” the inmate said.

He also complained of shortage of food at the facilities.

“We came here last month from Botswana; food is now a problem. Ever since we got here we can spend the whole week eating beans sometimes you do not even get the food and for some of us who require a special diet due to health conditions, are not supposed to eat sadza but you find that when you get to the food point, rice will be finished,” he claimed.

There were also reports that some of the inmates are kept at the facilities without being tested for Covid-19 despite the government insisting that inmates are tested three times during the 21 day period.

Contacted for a comment, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Paul Mavima said the returnees had no reason to complain about the standard of food being served at the centres.

“Our role is to look after those people in terms of food and other conditions. We have directed our people to cater for those with special dietary needs and that food has to be enough, there were a few days when we had not paid our suppliers but those suppliers have been paid so there has no reason whatsoever for them to now complain about food,” said Minister Mavima.

Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Judith Ncube said the information she received from the acting Bulawayo Provincial Medical Director Dr Welcome Mlilo is that there was group that was forced to stay longer after one of the inmates tested positive for Covid-19.

“I have spoken to the PMD he says he doubts that there are returnees who have spent 35 days but there are those who have spent 28 days because when they were about to be released, the group that was tested one of them tested positive, so they were told to remain for eight days, that is the group we can say maybe they have overstayed but the situation is being looked upon,” said Minister Ncube.

“This is a good thing because they are trying to help them and their families, even though they had tested negative but someone who they spent time with, tested positive that is why they have been kept for more days.”

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