In a bid to ensure compliance of the COVID-19 rules, Rwandese caught breaking curfew or not wearing masks are being sent to stadiums in droves for all-night lectures on the dangers of coronavirus.
Every evening, in stadiums across Rwanda, public health messaging is blared through loudspeakers to spectators seated at least a meter apart in the stands, imploring them to be ambassadors in the fight against the new virus.
The sessions — conducted under the watch of armed guards — wrap up around dawn when those attending are sent home with strict orders to self-quarantine.
Jado son Nizeyimana is one of the victims while speaking to the AFP Newsagency says he was stopped by police for wearing his mask incorrectly and was told to report to the nearest stadium.
“From now on, I’ll wear it wherever I am,” he said.
The press is often invited to attend so that images broadcast of those being reprimanded might dissuade others from ignoring the regulations.
However, others were given a choice: they could avoid public admonishment if they paid a fine of 25,000 Rwandan francs ($26/22 euros), an amount some say they could not afford
“I was arrested twice and spent the night at the stadium on both occasions. Both times I was caught after curfew. The alternative was to pay a heavy fine, but I don’t have any money. I am looking for a job,” said 25-year-old Elly Niganze.
According to the police, this heavy-handed approach plays a part in curbing the spread of the virus.
“We’re still finding many people breaking the rules, all the time. It’s as if some are doing it intentionally to frustrate police. I want to tell you it will not happen,” police spokesman John Bosco Kabera told reporters.
Meanwhile testing for COVID-19 — at above 280,000 — puts Rwanda among the better achievers on the continent.