EDITORIAL: Beware of the COVID-19 conmen

In times like these when the whole world has been brought to its knees when everyone is a candidate to contract one of the most deadly disease outbreaks of the century, human compassion usually kicks in.

Complete strangers suddenly show kindness to people on the streets, donations pour in as a sign of solidarity, but vultures also lark in the shadows.

Not only do quack NGOs suddenly pop up from nowhere, their smooth-talking is of nowhere in this world, it is in a class of its own. But those ones are seasonal as it is not every day that a global epidemic that needs a global response strikes.

The ones that we have to deal with urgently are the speculators who hoard essential goods in order to hike prices or sell counterfeits to take advantage of the collective desperation.

In all the above cases, the government has had to step in. It has warned people to be aware of people going around soliciting food and financial contribution on the pretext of helping vulnerable people, and they are very convincing.

One of the core problems identified in the current lockdown was the fate of labourers who earn daily wages or taxi-moto operators. So, when someone comes up with the idea of coming to the aid of those people, compassion takes the better of many and they fall in the well-laid trap.

But as the government advises, collecting and distributing aid to the most vulnerable should be done in an organized manner through local authorities, not through every Tom, Dick and Harry who are only there to make a quick one.

This is a time to not only wash our hands vigorously, but it is also time to wash our hands off those kinds of people even more. 

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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