This is the lesson learnt by a Victoria Falls family after it failed to notify authorities about its 17-year-old daughter and five-year-old grandson who illegally returned into the country from South Africa without going through screening processes as per Covid-19 prevention procedures.
The girl and her sister’s son aged five, names withheld because they are minors, reportedly used a cross-border transporter popularly known as umalayitsha to illegally enter the country a few days ago.
The two went straight home in Victoria Falls without presenting to health officials for screening.
The girl’s parents Mr Trust Mlauzi (54) and Ms Misiwe Moyo (52) welcomed the two and also did not notify authorities as is expected under lockdown rules. However, community members tipped a Covid-19 Rapid Response Team that there were some border jumpers.
The team raided several homes on Thursday after investigations and fished them out.
In Victoria Falls’ Mkhosana suburb, the team found Mr Mlauzi, his wife Ms Moyo, a five-year-old boy and the two border jumpers and took them all to Mosi-oa-Tunya High School quarantine centre where they were immediately quarantined.
All family members will be accommodated at the facility and go through testing for Covid-19, and will likely spend the mandatory 21 days in quarantine.
At a separate house in the same suburb the team found Mr Thomas Sibanda (53) who had sneaked into the country from Namibia where he was based and hid at his place of residence.
Mr Cabangani Sibindi (33) was also fished out of his homestead in Matetsi about 40km outside Victoria Falls where he had been hiding since illegally entering the country more than a fortnight ago when he came as a border jumper from South Africa to attend his mother’s funeral.
Messrs Sibindi and Sibanda were also taken to Mosi-oa-Tunya quarantine centre, now with 47 returnees as at yesterday afternoon.
Matabeleland North Provincial Social Welfare Officer Mr Macnon Chirinzepi said: “At the time of writing this report we had received a total of 12 returnees. Five came from Namibia through Victoria Falls border while one illegal immigrant from the same country was taken from Mkhosana. Another illegal immigrant from South Africa was found in Matetsi while two others were in Mkhosana in Victoria Falls.
“The illegal returnees had evaded the quarantine process. The ones in Mkhosana had come into contact with their family being two males and one female local residents, who have also been brought to the centre.”
Government recently said it is illegal to harbour returning citizens who do not go through set Covid-19 prevention procedure.
Police could not clarify if the border jumpers will be arrested for evading immigration processes as provincial police spokesperson Chief Inspector Siphiwe Makonese could not be reached on her mobile phone.
However, police sources said they may be left to complete the mandatory quarantine processes and charged on their release.
Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Richard Moyo urged members of the community to inform authorities about returning citizens who evade due Covid-19 processes.
“We are always telling people to report border jumpers to authorities. People coming from outside through wrong means should be reported immediately so that we all protect each other from the spread of coronavirus,” said the Minister.