COVID 19 certificates on sale at border posts

A group of young women walk along the main road leading away from the Chirundu border post, passing some of the hundreds of trucks which are parked overnight on the roadside awaiting customs clearance. This small settlement on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe is a key transit point on the the trucking route from South Africa through to East Africa and it has become notorious for its congestion as every day hundreds of trucks try to pass through this border. Drivers often end up having to spend days, even weeks in this hot uncomfortable place waiting for their paperwork. It is estimated that there are more than 350 sex workers based in Chirundu who provide services to truck drivers and others and the area is known as a HIV/AIDS transmission hotspot in the region. Often more than 500 vehicles can be parked overnight. (Photo by Gideon Mendel/Corbis via Getty Images)

ABOUT 330 blank stamped fake Covid-19 certificates were recovered by police from two suspects at Chirundu Border Post, as law enforcement agents intensify operations to weed out criminals engaging in fake documents.

The two suspects are Simbarashe Tsetse (24) and Freddy Katamanga (31).

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests in a statement.

“They were arrested on December 3, 2020 for originating fake Covid-19 certificates for travellers at Chirundu Border Post,” he said. 

“The suspects were arrested after a tip off from members of the public, leading to the recovery of 334 blank stamped Covid-19 certificates, two tubes containing glass capillaries, two testing kits, two receipt books, three plastic capillaries, Covid-19 test record register, methylated spirit bottle and one packet of new needles in their office at Self-Med Complex.” 

Asst Comm Nyathi said the duo had no medical qualifications and had just received US$120 from two complainants who intended to cross the border.

Following an investigative article published by The Herald recently exposing some individuals working at Harare Central and Chitungwiza Central hospitals for issuing fake Covid-19 certificates, police vowed to investigate and bring to book all those who engage in the illegal practice.

According to the Zimbabwean regulations following World Health Organisation guidelines, travellers must produce a PCR Covid-19 clearance certificate issued by a recognised health facility within 48 hours before leaving the country.

Most institutions charge around US$65 for the required PCR test for Covid-19, a test that is required within 48 hours before leaving the country by road or air.

To avoid the inconvenience or to cut costs, some wishing to cross the borders have resorted to paying US$20 bribes to health staff in order to be issued with a fraudulent certificate showing they tested negative to Covid-19.

Cross-border traders, job-seekers and others desperate for cheaper certificates are the major clients of the corrupt cartels.

–The Herald

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