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Phane harvesters punished for violating Covid-19 measures

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Three men escaped police charge by a whisker on Monday after they were found in the bush harvesting mophane worm against COVID-19 lockdown precautionary measures.

The three were found by the police and soldiers on patrol near Tati Siding Village. Last week Friday President Masisi declared a State of Public Emergency, which restricts non-essential services and unnecessary movement for 28 days to curb the spread of the virus.

People are expected to stay home and those who go out should apply for permits and failure to do so they are liable to a fine. This Thursday Parliament endorsed the extension of state of emergency by six months as the president requested.

Speaking to The Voice in an interview one of the victims, Kebatsetse Andries said initially they had gone to do a piece job of moulding bricks for a farm house.

He said on their way back they were tempted to harvest phane since they did not have relish at home. 34-year-old Andries said they had thought since they were not more than 10 for purposes of extreme social distancing it was not wrong to go to the farm.

“They asked us if we were aware of the lockdown and when we said yes, they punished us. They made us roll on the ground and do some push ups. We were lucky they did not shambok us. Movement restriction came as an emergency and we were not prepared. Some of us hustle for survival so it was a serious inconvenience. We tried to apply for temporary permits at the kgotla and they refused. We moulded the bricks and they need to be watered and we cannot go there so we wonder who will compensate for the loss,” said Andries

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