Police have rounded up three suspects on allegations of operating a ring selling fake Covid-19 vaccination certificates at Seke South Clinic in Chitungwiza.
The three arrested yesterday are the pest controller at the clinic, Sekai Gabriel, who was the first to be picked up after police asked the public for help tracking her down, along with nurse Shorai Sithori and the suspected outside agent Lloyd Chidziva, who is alleged to be the person who found customers prepared to pay US$25 to US$50 for the fake cards and brought them to the clinic.
Last night national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi announcing the three arrests said: “I can confirm that the police, working with the Special Anti-Corruption Unit, have arrested Sekai Gabriel, pest controller at Seke South Clinic, Shorai Sithori, a nurse, and Lloyd Chidziva, an agent, for corruptly selling Covid vaccination cards. They are all in police custody. They will appear in court soon.”
The action by the police and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit started after publication of an investigative report by The Herald that found that people were allegedly paying between US$25 and US$50 to be issued with forged cards in Chitungwiza without being vaccinated.
A Herald reporter pretending to be a cross-border trader bought one of these vaccination cards for US$25 without being vaccinated after making contact with an external agent who had dealings with the clinic.
Apparently cross-border traders are the main customers since they are yet to be given priority for vaccinations but reckon the vaccination card will help them.
Initially the police wished to interview Gabriel. An attempt to arrest Gabriel failed on Tuesday as she could not be located. However, police arrested her yesterday after issuing press statements appealing for information helpful in the arrest of the suspect.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the police “applaud members of the public for supplying positive information which led to the arrest of the suspect”.
In the system The Herald ran into an agent operating outside the clinic who was the contact person our reporter was asked to contact. The agent and the reporter agreed to meet on Wednesday March 24. Using WhatsApp and sometimes text messages, the agent suggested they meet at the corner of New Chitungwiza and Tilco Roads in Chitungwiza.
The reporter got into the agent’s Toyota Funcargo vehicle and they drove to Seke South Clinic. When they arrived, the agent called the woman now alleged to be Sekai Gabriel. She came out of the clinic and joined the other two in the agent’s vehicle.
After introductions by the agent, the woman handed the vaccination card to the reporter but it had no names.
The card showed that the reporter had received his first dose on February 25 and received the second dose on March 24 although the reporter is yet to receive his first jab. After the clinic employee had gone, the agent dropped the reporter outside the clinic.
However, the reporter picked an error on the card. Someone had erroneously written the year in the dates as 2020. The reporter went back to the clinic and was given another card with the 2021 dates.
“I am sorry for that. Give me back the card and I will bring a corrected one soon. For now, go and sit in my office,” said the clinic employee who he was dealing with.
After 15 minutes, the employee came back with the corrected card and escorted the reporter out of the office.
On their way out, the woman emphasised the need for the reporter to 0write his name and fill in other missing details on the vaccination card.