Surge in Attacks by Street Connected Children Worries Communities
Some Malawians are complaining of an increase in attacks orchestrated by street connected children, especially in Blantyre city where they are causing panic among residents.
The residents are now demanding the authorities to act on the matter with prompt.
Photos and posts of people attacked by the street connected children made rounds on various social media platforms, with Malawi University Business and Applied Sciences students being among the most affected.
People say that Blantyre has now become unsafe for anyone to move about the city’s streets after 5 pm.
Although everyone is blaming the street children, social welfare expert McBain Mkandawire, however, believes that the society too needs to shoulder the blame.
He says that what people in the cities are witnessing, is a result of long time neglect of the welfare of the children, who are just trying to find means of survival.
“Some of them have actually come from the village to towns looking for a better life. In the absence of any Street Connected Strategy, it becomes a very big challenge to manage them,” he said.
He adds; “What we are seeing now, is something that has been bred overtime, and we are just seeing the results. I know that the reaction has been to deal with the children and put them somewhere else. But where are you putting them?”
He believes, society should seriously look into providing better welfare for the street connected children and help them to acquire skills to be able to generate their income for survival.
There has been debate among stakeholders on how society can handled street connected children involved in criminal activities.
Some are of the view that, the circumstances they are in, due to neglect of the authorities, forces them to be committing crimes, as such arresting them would not be an ideal solution.
Legal expert Dr. Ngeyi Kanyongolo says that anyone involved in criminal activities must face the law.
“The offences that we have heard about are very serious, therefore they should be treated with the seriousness they deserve. For me, it doesn’t matter if you are street connected or not, but if you are involved in a crime, then the law must take its course,” she said.
Director of Services at St John of God Hospitaller Services Dr. Charles Masulani says Malawi needs to put in place a policy to stop street-connected child crime.
For Dr. Masulani, the solution also lies in the provision of infrastructure for rehabilitation of the children and not the criminal justice route.
“If there are a number of rehabilitation centers with human resource capacity like psychologists, counselors, and social workers that can help them gain skills to live independently. We would have a better society,’’ he explained.
Students from the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS) who have recently fallen victims to the attacks by the street connected children, earlier in the week met and agreed to resort to mob-justice, arguing that the authorities have failed them.
The students, however, have been condemned for their extreme decision.