THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has been forced to close its Bulawayo and Chiredzi offices after it emerged the 54-year-old Bulawayo man who died of COVID-19 on Sunday had visited the offices.
GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA/REX MPHISA
Thabani Sibanda, who became the country’s ninth COVID-19-related death, worked at the Zimra offices in Bulawayo and visited the company’s Chiredzi offices a week before his death, NewsDay has established.
He was admitted at the PSMI Hospital in Hillside, Bulawayo on Sunday July 5, 2020, soon after arriving from Chiredzi and died a few hours later.
Zimra’s Chiredzi offices were yesterday closed, while an internal memorandum dated July 7 by Zimra Commissioner-General Faith Mazani confirmed the temporary closure of the Bulawayo offices.
“This serves to advise the authority is temporarily closing the Bulawayo offices from July 7 and the office will be opened on Monday July 13,” part of Mazani’s memorandum read.
“This temporary closure has been effected in order to allow the disinfection of the offices. However, essential services shall continue to be offered through our COVID-19 structures.”
According to the circular, the Health ministry has started testing Zimra staff based at the Bulawayo Mhlahlandela office for COVID-19 where all those tested will be placed on 14-day self-quarantine.
The Chiredzi offices were reportedly closed for the same reason.
Sources revealed Sibanda came to Chiredzi from Bulawayo in the company of nine other Zimra employees. Four of them were booked at Palm Place with the other five booked at Stallion Lodge.
Sibanda was staying in room 3 at Palm Place for four days where he had contact with employees at the lodge. Hippo Valley Estates employees working at the distillery also allegedly had contact with him.
He also had daily contact with his son who is based in Chiredzi and is currently an intern at a local company. The son stays in Tshovani suburb and shares a house with eight other occupants.
Resident director for Palm Place, Lovemore Chiwanza, confirmed that the man was booked at his lodge.
“Yes, I can confirm that he was staying in room 3, but he never showed any sign of illness and his temperature was normal,” Chiwanza said.
“As a lodge, we are so thorough when it comes to following government guidelines. We are already disinfecting the place. The Ministry of Health recommended that we use hydro peroxide for fumigation.”
Health ministry officials have been to Zimra, Palm Place and Stallion Lodge collecting samples from staff and those suspected to have had contact with the deceased.
Stallion Lodge officials denied ever hosting Zimra officials at their place, but the district development co-ordinator for Chiredzi, who is the vice-chairperson of district COVID-19 taskforce, Livermore Chisema, said the lodge was one of the sites visited by Health officials.