At least 2,046 people were arrested on Friday night July 31, across the country after they were found violating government directives meant to prevent further spread of Coronavirus, namely the curfew.
About 925 were arrested in the City of Kigali alone.
The countrywide operations were conducted by the Police and local leaders between Friday 9PM and Saturday 5AM.
The violators were on Saturday, August 1, paraded to the media at different centres in the country. In Kigali, the centres are Amahoro, Kicukiro, and Nyamirambo stadiums and at the Independent University of Kigali (ULK) ground in Gisozi.
The centres have wide spaces enough to allow social distancing and to control movements during curfew hours.
The violators include motorists and pedestrians. Others include those who were caught holding varied events and gatherings in their homes; those operating bars or have turned their homes into bars; individuals that were not wearing facemask as a prerequisite when in public; and social distancing.Grace Mahoro is one of the 242 people that had to spend a night at ULK ground for violating the curfew.
“Usually, 9PM finds me home, I blame myself for poor planning and having to spend the whole night in the cold.
Those, who have not spent a night in such an open-air have no idea how it feels like. I wouldn’t wish this to anyone. After all, the directives are meant to protect us from COVID-19,” Mahoro said.
Cyriaque Niyoshyaka is among the 109 violators we found at Kicukiro stadium. Niyoshyaka shares the same regrets.
“When you violate the directives, you are the loser. I spent a night here. I feel tired, stressed up and I can’t go to work. When you breach the directives, you are also derailing the country’s development since you are consuming government resources unnecessarily, especially when they are wasted in enforcing the directives and unnecessarily giving officials more work,” Niyoshyaka reckoned.
The centres are also used as awareness grounds where those caught in varied violations are educated on the government directives on Covid-19 prevention as well as recommended safety and hygiene practices.
Solange Umutesi, the Executive Administrator for Kicukiro District, while speaking to violators at Kicukiro stadium, reminded them that COVID-19 is still in our midst and abiding by the directives is the only option and remedy against the pandemic at the moment.
“You don’t need many people to succumb to this sickness to call it a big problem; one or two COVID-19 positive persons can ignite the virus in the community and the whole country. We cannot allow such risky behaviours to continue,” Umutesi warned.
In Nyarugenge, the district Executive Administrator, Emmy Ngabonziza echoed the same message to the 471 violators at Kigali stadium.
He said that local authorities have strengthened partnerships with the Police and other security organs to ensure maximum compliance.
“Not seeing a Police Officer does not in one’s vicinity is not an opportunity to violate the government safety instructions. Before violators know it, they will be apprehended by local leaders. We can’t allow this pandemic to continue spreading,” Ngabonziza said.
RNP Spokesperson, CP John Bosco Kabera, warned that there is no room to be complacent in this critical period.
“We will continue these operations, as we will not tire to break these inappropriate and risky practices and culture. The pandemic is still roaming in our midst, which can be fought when we respect every beat of the government directives and respect the recommended safety and hygiene instructions,” CP Kabera said. He said that subjecting violators to spending a night in these centres does not stop there. They are followed up to ensure that they picked a lesson from the messages given to them on the safety practices and ensuring that recidivists are severely penalised.
RNP recently started digital registration of anyone found violating the government directives to inform further actions when the same person is caught again in related violations.
He reminded the general public to plan their daily errands accordingly so as to be home by 9PM.
The spokesperson further cautioned people, who invite others for home events like birthday parties and other prohibited gatherings.
He further warned against operating bars or turning homes into bars adding that some of the violators are arrested when drunk.