A combined team of Council Police and Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) Officers yesterday swung into action to remove street kids around the Central Business District in Kapiri Mposhi.
And the Department of Social Welfare has threatened to prosecute parents of the children caught up in the dragnet for child neglect and failure to provide for their children.
This follows a spate of car breakings where property such as laptops and money has been stolen from vehicles parked around the area by suspected street kids.
The team rounded up 20 suspected street kids aged between nine and 19 years in an operation around Shoprite and Choppies supermarkets.
Kapiri Mposhi Town Council Public Relations Officer, Nelly Nkolongo says the operation was conducted to bring sanity to the Central Business District after complaints of thefts, drug abuse and criminal activities involving street kids.
Ms. Nkolongo revealed that the team recovered harmful smoking substances commonly known as “Bostick” from the apprehended street kids.
“Concerns were raised on the activities of street kids around the CBD and the local authority responded to restore sanity … this will be a routine operation to rid the streets of these children and see how they can be re-integrated into school with the help of the social welfare department and Ministry of education,” Ms. Nkolongo said.
Meanwhile, the Social Welfare Department has threatened to prosecute parents of the affected children for child neglect if they allow their children to go back to the streets.
This is after it was discovered that all the 19 out of the 20 apprehended children were coming from homes of their parents.
Kapiri Mposhi District Assistant Social Welfare Officer, Kelvin Munyama says the parents who were summoned and made to sign Commitment to Care Agreements were reminded that it was their responsibility to take care of their children.
Mr Munyama explained that under provisions of Section 169 of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia, a parent commits an offence for failing to provide for the child.
“We made an assessment which revealed that these children are actually coming from homes and have parents so we tracked and summoned their parents whom we have cautioned to the effect that they risk being prosecuted for neglecting their children and have since signed Commitment to Care agreements to resume supporting their children,” Mr. Munyama said.
Mr Munyama said the Department of Social Welfare has since initiated a counseling regime for the affected children and respective parents to ensure that the children do not go back to the streets.
He added that his department will engage stakeholders and the Ministry of Education to facilitate the re-admission into school of children who had stopped school.
“ Both parents and respective children have been linked to counseling services through Social Welfare and several stakeholder organizations in the district on various problems presented as having been the cause of their being found on the streets and DEBS will be engaged to ensure that children who are not in school for various reasons are re-admitted,” Mr Munyama said.