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BCC warns against smuggling of corpses

by Staff reporter
24 Jul 2020 at 08:07hrs | Views
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has warned residents against smuggling groceries into the country following reports that omalayitsha (cross-border transporters) were either sneaking in corpses with basic commodities or hiding the items in hearses and most likely exposing citizens to COVID-19.

BCC divisional environmental health officer Patrick Ncube advised residents against taking such risks.

"It is trending on social media platforms that there are people who use omalayitsha trailers used to ferry deceased individuals into the country to smuggle in groceries. This is a very disheartening issue, the thing is people should realise that COVID-19 is easily spread from one person to another," Ncube said.

"Therefore, if it happens that there is a deceased individual who is supposed to be brought back into Zimbabwe, precautionary measures should be followed."

A video that went viral on social media yesterday showed grave diggers in protective wear retrieving smuggled goods that had been mistakenly buried with a corpse.

Pictures of trucks smuggling corpses hidden among grocery items also went viral on social media.

"We, therefore, ask as a city that let's not put our lives at risk by doing unnecessary things like what we are getting from social media platforms that there are people who smuggle groceries in deceased persons' coffins or trailers, making it likely that those who will handle the groceries can easily contract the virus if the deceased died of COVID-19," he said.

Ncube said mourners should not accompany the corpse from neighbouring countries during the pandemic.

"Those who escort the body will be asked to remain in quarantine as it is part of the mitigatory measures. Therefore, they will not be able to attend the burial," Ncube said, adding that on arrival, the bodies should be taken to funeral parlours.

Ncube said if a person succumbs to COVID-19, body viewing was not permitted and burial would be supervised by authorities.

Information permanent secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana also tweeted: "The smuggling of goods hidden as contraband in a coffin carrying the remains of a COVID-19 victim is a concern. The people that handle, use or eat such goods are being exposed to the virus. One never knows how prevalent the practice is, but this may explain some local transmissions."

Source - newsday

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