Written by Melie Chipula Bayani:
Child rights activists have commended the Blantyre Police Station for taking action against the parents of street-connected children who have been reportedly involved in attacks on people in the commercial city.
According to Peter Mchiza, the station’s Publicist, the arrest on Thursday came following complaints from Blantyre residents about the children’s aggressive behaviour.
Mchiza stated, “Most of the children come from areas within Blantyre, such as Mbayani, Chilimba, Chilomoni, and the surrounding areas. The children led us to their homes, where we arrested their parents”.
He went on to explain that the parents would be charged with failing to provide basic necessities for their children, which is in violation of section 165 of the penal code.
In response to the developments, well-known child rights activist Amos Chibwana stated that it is legally established that neglecting to provide necessary support to children who end up on the streets is against the law. Arresting these parents, he believes, is a way to address this problem.
He commented, “Due to negligence, many parents have stopped taking care of their children, claiming they cannot manage to provide them with basic needs. This is a way for the authorities to deal with such parents”.
However, Chibwana emphasized that issues related to street-connected children are not criminal in nature. Therefore, he stressed the importance of using a social approach to minimize attacks by street children.
While expressing satisfaction with the police’s actions, Victor Mhango, the Executive Director for the Center for Human Rights, Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA), condemned the police for reportedly keeping some street children in custody, which he argues is against the law.
He said, “We have credible information that some of the children were taken into police custody, which is not allowed as children should not be detained”.
Meanwhile, Mhango called on the government through the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare to investigate the root cause of this issue and find a lasting solution to address the problem of street-connected children.
He concurred with Chibwana that while the police’s efforts are commendable, a social approach is necessary to ensure that these children do not return to the streets.
Recently, students from the Malawi Business of Applied Sciences (MUBAS) in Blantyre reported increased attacks by street children on and off the campus.