Some female deportees quarantined at the United College of Education (UCE) in Bulawayo reportedly staged a demonstration Monday, demanding their immediate release claiming they have overstayed at the institution.
Zimbabweans returning from other countries are normally kept at quarantine centres for a mandatory 21 days before they are tested for COVID-19 and released to go to their homes.
The women housed at the centre were deported from Botswana.
However, the returnees claim they have been kept at the centre for a month now while others who came after them have been released.
In an interview with CITE, some of the protesting women said they had been tested and saw no reason why they were still quarantined.
Some of the women reportedly refused to eat.
“I arrived here at UCE on April 4, after I spent six days at Plumtree. Today is Day 31 for me at UCE,” said one of the women.
“We were tested last week on Wednesday but didn’t receive my results. The officials here are not saying anything so I want to go back home.”
Another woman, who refused to be named, said she was from Harare and was keen on being reunited with her family.
“Some women only spent seven to eight days but there are several of us here who have clocked more than 30 days,” she said.
She also complained that they were not given detergents for cleaning.
“We do some cleaning here but we clean the toilets with our bare hands. We are also told to share a bar of soap between eight to 12 people. In fact, they give us more toilet paper than necessary. There is also a woman here who hasn’t been well for the past two days and has been vomiting a lot but she has not been attended to. We have been eating rice, rice and we are fed up with the rice,” she claimed.
CITE also spoke to one of the women, in her twenties, alleged to be the mastermind of the demonstration.
“I am just shocked, I was identified as the ring leader and the officials told me I would be taken to the CID. I was even afraid to go my room thinking that the police would come for me there. The authorities asked why we’re singing (during the protest),” she said.
The young woman said she arrived at UCE on April 13 and has clocked 24 days.
“We were tested last week Wednesday and heard from radio that result were negative. We still don’t know why we are here. We are not allowed to speak to members of the media and we have been forced to keep quiet. The police were called in to come and control us and as we speak they are still here. The other women are now afraid of even associating with us over the demonstration,”she said.
She said she was from Cowdray Park and wanted to go see her children.
“Right now there are two women who are sick, one of them has been vomiting a lot but no doctor has come in to see them, we don’t know what they are suffering from, it may not be the coronavirus but such makes others speculate,” said the young woman.
Contacted for comment, Deputy Minister, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Lovemore Matuke said he would have to check on the matter.
“I am hearing this from you, let me gather information and check, if you call me tomorrow, I at one may be able to shed more light,” he said.