A total of 81 people, among them 29 who are Covid-19 positive, escaped from the Beitbridge Quarantine, Isolation and Transit Centre last week under unclear circumstances.
Sources close to the case today said the group included 71 Malawian border jumpers who were arrested by the police last week while en-route to South Africa.
Ten other members of the group were Zimbabweans who had just been deported for violating South African immigration laws.
Beitbridge district medical officer Dr Lenos Samhere confirmed the escape, but he was yet to get a full report on the nationality of those who have absconded.
“We are having a challenge of people absconding from quarantine or isolation,” he said. “However, I cannot give you any figures at the moment, we still need to carry out further verifications.
“Some are absconding after testing positive for the Covid-19 condition, while others are disappearing pending the processing of the results of the tests.”
The Herald understands that issues of absconding at the Beitbridge isolation centre have been on the rise since February following the withdrawal of the Zimbabwe National Army that was offering security since its opening in March last year.
So far, a total of 1 391 people have escaped from the centre between March 2020 and this month.
Some have been escaping under the cover of darkness, while others bribe security personal at the point.
Over 18 000 people, including Zimbabwean returnees, deportees and Tanzanian and Malawian border jumpers have passed through the isolation centre in the last 14 months.