'4 701 children live on the streets'

CHILDREN and adults living on the streets have become a menace in Zimbabwe, as government and local authorities struggle to find a solution to get them off the streets.

Reports of crimes perpetrated by this group are increasing, and central business traffic lights intersections have become their hot spots as they await to pounce on motorists and pedestrians.

While some of them have become aggressive beggars, more have resorted to just grabbing people’s possessions and robbery.
There are an estimated 4 701 children living in and working on the streets in Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo and Beitbridge, according to statistics from the Social Welfare ministry.

Harare Provincial State minister Miriam Chikukwa (pictured) last week ordered Harare municipality to act on street kids, some of whom have camped in front of council’s Town House.

“Harare City Council should restore order and remove unruly elements such as mushika-shika and these streets children who are harassing people at intersections in the CBD,” Chikukwa said during a tour to access the capital’s road system.
This comes as there has been an outcry on the influx of children living on the streets by members of the public, with some reporting abuse.

Social Welfare which conducted a count on the number of children living on the streets said efforts to remove them from the streets have been fruitless as they keep coming back.

“Last year, a total of 463 were removed from the streets countrywide. The exercise of removing these children is a mammoth one which needs assistance from the public, supporting partners and civil society. In order to finance the programme, government has established the Children on the Streets Fund which is supported by civil society,” Social Welfare deputy minister Tapiwa Matangaidze told Parliament early this year.

This comes after a Harare vagrant reportedly teamed up with his two colleagues and took turns to rape a woman in January.
Richard Kabasa, 27, who is of no fixed abode, stood trial on rape charges before Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya.
The complainant is a 28-year old woman from Mabelreign, Harare.

Allegations were that the woman was at corner Leopold Takawira and Parklane in the city waiting for transport to go to Greencroft before the vagrants grabbed and dragged her towards Harare Gardens holding a knife to her.

When they arrived at a secluded area under a tree in Harare Gardens, Kabasa and his accomplices pushed the victim to the ground forcibly removed the woman’s trousers before forcing himself on her while his colleagues looked on before taking turns to rape her.

More stories of the ills by children living on the streets have also been reported in Bulawayo and Mutare where they are engaging in theft particularly when people leave cars unlocked or car windows open.
—Bridget Mananavire


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