The Swaziland (eSwatini) Government is sending security forces across the kingdom to arrest people ‘on sight’ who flout tight regulations as deaths from coronavirus continue to climb.
Acting Prime Minister Themba Masuku said it would consider ‘further harsh decisions’ including closing sectors of the economy that do not comply with regulations.
These include a ban on gatherings after 7 p.m., a night time curfew on travelling, and a ban on community sporting activities.
The number of deaths from coronavirus (COVID-19) has risen sharply in recent days. According to the Ministry of Health as of 2 January 2021 there had been 227 reported deaths. As of 6 December 2020, the number had been 123. The population of Swaziland is about 1.1 million.
Masuku, who became Acting Prime Minister after the death from coronavirus of PM Ambrose Dlamini, said in a statement, ‘People continue to blatantly disregard COVID-19 health protocols, by refusing to wear masks appropriately, allowing reasonable social distancing and sanitising properly.
‘Gatherings and alcohol consumption continue unabated as if things were still normal. Swimming pools are teeming with throngs of people. Community sporting activities still continue in some places. Churches continue to worship beyond the stipulated two and a half hours and church leaders still pray for people by laying hands, while worshippers refuse to wear masks.’
Masuku said, ‘We cannot continue like this because if we do, we risk wiping away the entire eSwatini population and future generations with it.’
The Swazi Government has introduced ‘Operation Bopha’, a campaign including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice and security forces such as the police and army.
Masuku said the operation tightened the enforcement of the regulations that were recently put in place. ‘We target all Emaswati and residents who continue to flout the COVID-19 health protocols and a team of inspectors and security forces are moving around countryside to arrest, on sight, anyone who continues to put the lives of other people at risk.
‘This operation also covers business establishments, particularly those selling liquor and allowing people to congregate and consume alcohol at the liquor outlets.’
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