About 100 female returnees and deportees from Botswana who were staying at the United College of Education (UCE) in Bulawayo were expelled from the premises by government officials on Thursday evening following the expiry of the mandatory 21-day COVID-19 quarantine period.
The returnees, who tested negative for COVID-19, were given bus fare pegged at Zupco rates around 5 PM and directed to immediately vacate the premises by officials from the Department of Social Welfare.
Jerita Gunde from Sanyati, who was deported from Botswana, was among the returnees dumped on the road by the government. She said:
The kind of treatment that we got today (yesterday) was inhuman. We were told that we had overstayed our welcome before the officials ordered us to surrender the blankets that we were given in Plumtree and locked the rooms, which we were using during our stay at the quarantine centre.
They gave us bus fare and immediately ordered us to vacate the premises. We tried to plead with them since some of us had babies, but the official refused to listen.
Meanwhile, a local pastor, Reverend Pedzisayi Sithole extended help to some of the stranded returnees and offered them overnight accommodation at his house in Famona suburb. He said:
I came across these people after my wife’s relative who was part of the group of returnees, contacted us upon her release from the quarantine centre.
I then discovered that there were actually many others, and it was so touching to see some of them with babies, which is why I offered to accommodate them all at my place of residence.
I am aware of COVID-19, but the spirit of humanity comes first under such circumstances and that is what compelled me to render assistance to these innocent souls.