|Inmates at Mushagashe sleep in dormitories|
People quarantined at
Mushagashe Training Centre outside Masvingo town along the road to Harare have
complained that police and soldiers deployed there are using heavy-handed
tactics whenever they try to raise issues that concern them.
The training centre was
recently approved to hold people coming from neighbouring countries like
Botswana and South Africa in quarantine for a maximum of 21 days.
initially indicated that the centre was not suitable for use as a quarantine
centre as its accommodation facilities were dormitories that made it difficult
to make sleeping arrangements respecting social distancing rules.
Some of the people held
there, however, complain that they have spent over 21 days at the centre but
they have not been tested and there is no showing that they could be released
any time soon.
This, they say, has
fomented grievances as inmates want to know progress being made towards testing
“The police and army
officer deployed here, however, are overly strict and paranoid. Whenever we try
to register grievances or get clarifications from social services and health
authorities here, we are met with brute force.
“Yesterday, the people
we chose to represent us tried to initiate engagement but it all ended in grief
as we were all rounded up and locked-up in one big room for the rest of the day
where social-distancing was impossible. Our leaders were then detained in a
separate room for questioning,” said one inmate who contacted TellZim News.
Another female inmate
said they were once locked up and starved for the rest of the day after they
complained about the bad state of sanitary facilities at the centre.
“The police and
soldiers accused us of planning to stage demonstrations and they locked us up
and denied us food for the rest of the day. This was after we raised concerns
that the toilets and bathrooms were not being properly cleaned and maintained.
‘Besides that, a new
inmate is added to the existing group so we end up mixed-up; those that came
weeks back and those that are arriving now. How do you expect us to tolerate
that when the focus should be on keeping people from different places apart,”
said the inmate.
Others complain that
the health authorities that visit the place do not bother talking to them
either individually or to address them as a group.
When contacted for
comment, Masvingo Provincial Medical Director (PMD) Dr Amadeus Shamu disputed
inmates’ claims that they had spent several weeks in quarantine, saying most
have been there only for a week.
He also claimed that all
the people were tested upon arrival at the quarantine and were not yet due for
Shamu also referred
questions about mixing of new arrivals with those that have been there for long
to the Social Welfare department but no comment could be obtained there by the
time of publishing.