Provincial Development Coordinator for Harare Metropolitan Province Tafadzwa Muguti has raised concern over the rising crime rate being perpetrated by people living on the streets in the capital city’s Central Business District.
The people living on the streets, also known as street kids have been impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions on their sources of income according to The Conversation and some may resort to crime for survival.
Muguti in a press statement says, “Many complaints have arisen that people living on the streets including children are engaging in the abuse of substances such as glue and dagga, gang rape of young girls whilst the boys are being sodomised, stealing from parked vehicles, harassing pedestrians and snatching food from people.”
Zimbabwe had an estimated 4 701 children living on the streets in 2017 according to local media.
Over 200 street kids are estimated to be living in Harare alone, although it is a challenge to get the actual figures.
Street kids are also themselves falling into prey from Harare motorists according to the Provincial Development Coordinator.
Muguti said such acts are sad and unacceptable in the new dispensation.
“We also express displeasure and concern from reports that are coming through the Provincial Social Welfare Officer that there are some motorists who are now picking up these street children especially boys and abusing them in cars, hames and secluded places,” Muguti said.
“We urge the public and the victims of such abuse to report these activities to the nearest Police station or reach out to the Social Welfare offices in Harare.”
The government working with Strategic Social Development Partners and local authorities established safe houses for street kids which include Ruwa Rehabilitation Centre, Mt Hampden Youth Training Centre, Northcot Training Institution, Jamaica Inn and Beatrice Rehabilitation Centre according to Muguti.
“It is important to note and inform the public that all the people taken to the safe homes are being fed adequately and empowered with vocational skills that they can use in future to sustain themselves and improve their livelihoods,” he said.
“Unfortunately, we are experiencing a high rate of absconding children and adults as they seek to go back on to the streets, whilst some have sold their blankets and other supportive materials handed over to them by well-wishers upon onboarding.”