THE time bomb is ticking for police officers deployed to enforce the national 21-day lockdown amid reports that food reserves are running out, while personal protective equipment (PPE) is not being correctly used posing risk of infection, Zim Morning Post has learnt.
Trusted sources within the police force told Zim Morning Post on Saturday, that the reserved food ran out after two days into the lockdown, leaving officers to personally cater for meals from their own pockets.
Zim Morning Post understands that on deployment, the officers were promised that they will be provided with meals while discharging their duties.
“We were promised to be fed throughout the lockdown.
“The food ran out after only two days and the bosses had hope that government, through the Ministry of Health, was going to allocate funds to cater for the food and our protection but that was never the case.
“My wife has to pack rice and soup that I carry to work daily,” revealed a disgruntled police officer manning a check point at one of the major highways leading into the central business district (CBD).
Investigations by this publication established that the police procurement department fulfilled it’s obligation of raising requisition invoices for food, but some suppliers were found wanting.
“I don’t blame the quartermaster because he only distributed the rations that were available.
“I hear that because of the lockdown the guys responsible for buying food changed traditional suppliers and enlisted services of unreliable suppliers and their friends,” said an inside source.
“No one is claiming responsibility for the mismanagement.
“They didn’t have the view that shops were going to be
closed and that banks will also be not operating so the police officers on duty will not have access to cash and food,” added our source.
It was also revealed that these frontline police officers were at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus owing to inadequate PPE.
“Protection is at minimum, with only masks being provided.
“I have seen medical experts on renowned television channels saying that masks should not be used for longer hours, but one is spending the whole day with a single mask, handling licences and mingling with many motorists at the roadblocks,” our source voiced concern.
These circumstances have given rise to incidents where police officers are accused of demanding ‘risk allowance’ from motorists at road blocks.
Last week, Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Nick Mangwana noted this rot and read a riot act to culprits on his official Twitter handle.
No member of the Zimbabwe Republic Police has been confirmed COVID-19 positive to date,while in neighbouring South Africa,at least twenty officers from South African Police Services(SAPS) were tested positive, according to responsible minister Beki Ncele.
Meanwhile, national police spokesperson Paul Nyathi on Friday said they have intensified patrols during the Easter holidays and will arrest citizens who do not abide to the restrictions put in place during the 21-day national lockdown pronounced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in an effort to curb the spread of the deadly virus.