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Government ‘abandons’ Mapanga quarantine centre

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Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda

The government has abandoned Mapanga Prison Training Centre as a Covid quarantine centre.

The Mapanga institution was renovated to temporarily accommodate returnees from South Africa, as they awaited coronavirus test results.

The very first cohort to be quarantined at the facility went on rampage destroying the hostel and administration block on January 10 this year.

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The government spent K9 million on renovationa.

However, Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said the place had not been abandoned but was simply not being used after it was vandalised by some returnees.

“It’s not that we have abandoned the place but they [returnees] vandalised it and we need to fix it. You should also know that there is usually an influx of returnees when there is a total lockdown in South Africa so they are coming but not as they used to.

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“We have not abandoned the place. We are not yet out of the woods so it has to be ready to accommodate returnees and deportees if the need arises,” she said.

Malawi Prison Service spokesperson Chimwemwe Shaba said the Presidential Taskforce on Covid did not completely take over the place from them.

“The place was and remains ours and, besides, this is a government institution. It was just by coincidence that at a time we suspended training activities in line with Covid prevention guidelines, the government needed the place to accommodate a good number of people,” he said.

It has also transpired that the returnees are being tested right there in South Africa and only those found negative are being allowed back home while the negative ones are being asked to wait.

Immigration Department spokesperson at Mwanza Border Pasqually Zulu said they were mainly verifying and validating documents surrounding returnees’ travel.

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