THERE are fears that some of the people that were aboard a Devine Star Logistics bus in Beitbridge on Monday could have been infected with the COVID-19 virus after a man succumbed to the respiratory disease while travelling on the bus.
The man, Shingai Ndlovu, was pronounced dead on arrival at Beitbridge Hospital after he spent several hours on the bus which was full of other passengers.
Beitbridge police yesterday confirmed the death of Ndlovu, but they referred all questions pertaining to COVID-19 health issues to Beitbridge Hospital.
However, there are suspicions that the bus crew, health officials and the police at Beitbridge Border Post could have been negligent after failing to do proper checks, which further exposed other passengers on the bus.
“We collected the body from the bus, but all issues pertaining to health are best responded to by health authorities,” Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Inspector Loveness Mangena said.
An investigation by NewsDay revealed that Ndlovu, who was suffering from several underlying health problems, boarded the bus in Johannesburg, where the bus crew was said to have engaged in a debate on whether to take in the visibly ill passenger.
“I think greed got the better of them and they accepted his money,” one of the passengers on the bus told NewsDay.
Ndlovu was travelling with his wife and child. On arrival at Beitbridge, it is said that his condition was kept a secret.
His wife, who was in a state of shock, on Monday told this paper that his breathing had deteriorated as he had been ill for some time.
“He never left the bus, and had been moved to the back seat where he slept throughout the journey,” she said.
Other passengers suspected that he could have possibly died at the border, or even earlier, but the bus, which was headed for Chipinge, was never examined.
They said the bus was stopped at a police roadblock just outside Beitbridge town, but the policemen demanded payment for border jumpers aboard the bus.
“After an argument with the bus crew, the bus driver was ordered to drive to the police station with other buses that were not allowed through. A bus heading to Harare was let through after the crew paid R3 000 for passage,” one of the passengers revealed.
He said everyone was ordered into the police station, and when the bus was searched, the body of the deceased was then discovered.
“People were crowded at the police station where they queued to pay fines. There was no social distancing, and when the news filtered that a passenger was found dead, the police became jittery and they asked people to observe social distancing,” another passenger revealed.
It was also said that the bus never went to the Beitbridge Quarantine Centre.
“We never handled such a case,” a source at the centre said, preferring not to be named.