HARARE – Adult vagrants arrested during a police clean-up exercise to remove homeless people from Harare’s central business district will appear in court today.
Police spokesperson Tadious Chibanda said the vagrants will be charged under the Child Protection Act.
Chibanda said adults who forced their children into the streets to beg for food and money face charges of abusing minors who are supposed to be in school.
Police picked up hordes of vagrants in the city centre on Monday, with over a dozen being children.
Chibanda said minors rounded up during the clean-up operation, code-named Usagara Mumugwagwa (Leave the streets), were immediately transferred to various children’s homes where an assessment of their needs was done by civic society groups assisting police in the exercise.
“It is an offence under the Child Protection Act to allow a minor to beg for food in the street. These children are being abused by their parents and end up being street kids,” Chibanda said.
Police say children who say that abuse was the driving force behind their stay on the street will assist investigators from the Victim Friendly Unit to lead them to their parents.
Organisations such as Justice for Children Trust, Streets Ahead and Child line are some of the groups that are working with police to clean the capital city.
According to police, some street urchins are now a danger to the public as they have become habitual criminals.
Plain-clothes police officers on Monday descended on the homeless “families” and grabbed wailing children from reluctant parents who tried vainly to resist arrest.
Most of the people who now have families living in the streets started off as street children and have graduated into street fathers, according to the police. –