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Zimbabwe returnees top 3 000

Source: Bulawayo News, 10/05/2020

The country has put in place measures to ensure that returnees are
immediately quarantined as part of measures to control the spread
of the virus. To ease crowding at the entry points, the returnees
are transported and sheltered at quarantine centres in their home
provinces.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Deputy Minister of Labour,
Public Service and Social Welfare, Lovemore Matuke said the
returnees came by road while some flew in. The country started the
national lockdown on 30 March.

`We have since the start of the lockdown received up to 3 134
returnees into the country who have voluntarily come while some
were deported. The returnees have been coming from South Africa,
Botswana and Mozambique through the road while some coming from
other countries have been using their arrival destination as the
airport,` said Deputy Minister Matuke.

South Africa`s Home Affairs Department yesterday deported 527
Zimbabweans via Beitbridge Border Post, most of whom had violated
immigration laws while others had finished serving varied jail
terms.

That brings to 1 004 the number of people who have officially been
repatriated from the neighbouring country in the last seven days.
Among those deported yesterday were 129 ex-convicts and a majority
of the migrants were men with only seven being women. The
returnees arrived in 11 buses. This time the repatriation was
funded by the South African government with the Zimbabwe Embassy
providing logistics.

Under normal circumstances the deportees would find their
transport from Lindela Repatriation Centre in Johannesburg to
Beitbridge and pay R550. It is understood that the South African
government spends at least R100 for the upkeep of each migrant
under detention at Lindela daily.

Zimbabwe`s Consul-General to South Africa, Mrs Melody Chaurura
said; `We identified 476 people on Friday while the rest of the
group had gone through the same process prior to the
implementation of the lock down.` Upon arrival in the country, the
migrants were taken to the National Social Security Authority
Hotel, which is being used as a quarantine and isolation centre
for the returnees in Beitbridge.

The Director of Social Welfare in the Ministry of Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare, Mr Totamirepi Tirivavi said the
deportees were profiled, screened for Covid-19 and transported to
their respective provinces for quarantining.

`Today (yesterday) we have received our citizens who were being
detained at Lindela in South Africa. Upon arrival they are going
to go through profiling and rapid tests. Those that would be found
to be Covid-19 positive would be put into isolation while those
asymptotic will be sent to Government designated quarantine
centres closer to their final destinations. The buses have started
arriving to transport them and the process is going on smoothly.`

He said the Beitbridge centre will remain with 150 people mainly
those from Matabeleland South. The South African Home Affairs
Department has also started implementing a blitz to penalise
foreign immigrants who had overstayed in the neighbouring country
prior to the lockdown. According to the Department of Home Affairs
lockdown guidelines visitor who fail to leave South Africa during
the lockdown are exempted from any form of immigration related
penalties. However, those who would have overstayed are being
banned from travelling to that country for periods varied from
three months to a maximum of five years.

The Assistant Regional Immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge
(Zimbabwe), Mr Nqobile Ncube said; `As per the operational
guidelines only those who were affected by the lockdown in either
Zimbabwe or South Africa will be exempted from penalties.`

Meanwhile, Midlands yesterday received 97 returnees mostly from
South Africa and Botswana. Of the 75, 50 came from Botswana while
25 were from South Africa. The returnees, who were ferried by
Zupco buses, were immediately put under mandatory quarantine at
Gweru Polytechnic College where they would be housed for at least
eight days while undergoing screening and testing for Covid-19.

Sen Mavima said the province had adequate food for the returnees
while in quarantine after receiving donations from the corporate
world.

Sen Mavima, on The province received 4,5 tonnes of mealie-meal
from Blue Ribbon Foods as part of the 30 tonnes national donation
handed over to President Mnangagwa.

Sen Mavima also received 2 000 litres of petrol, 2 000 litres of
diesel, 200 litres of hand sanitisers and 500 masks from Midlands
Metals that were handed over by the company`s director, Dr Staben
Karimazondo. The province also received a portable ventilator from
Dr Thomas Ndebele.

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