WHILE there is no place like home for most people, two young Emakhandeni boys have chosen to leave the comfort of their home for the streets.
The boys’ mother Hilda Dave this week narrated the agony she has been going through looking for her run away eight and 10-year-old Grade Two and Four children each time they flee from home.
Dave, who is divorced from the boys’ father Faustino Mutangi, said she found the two at TM Hyper at the corner of Fort Street and 10th Avenue in a filthy state and took them home.
Dave said she bathed them, gave them some food and then took them to an apostolic sect in Emakhandeni to pray for spiritual intervention as she believes that they are haunted by evil spirits.
She said she believed their father had a bearing on their strange behaviour.
“I believe their father has a bearing on my children’s unexplained behaviour,” said Dave. “I believe there are bad spirits that are following my children.”
She said they only spent Sunday night at home after she had picked them up from TM Hyper. They disappeared again on Monday and went to their aunt’s place instead of going to school. She took them back home, but the younger boy ran away yesterday and Dave said he had still not been found.
“I have tried contacting Mutangi several times to no avail. He does not care about the well-being of the children and he does not bother to look for them when they run to the streets,” she said.
“I have reported this case to the police before and asked them to speak to my children and convince them not to run away, but that has not helped.
“They have also tried to contact Mutangi, but to no avail.”
When Southern Eye contacted Mutangi for comment, he denied accusations that he had neglected his children and instead alleged that the man who stays with Dave ill-treated the boys. Mutangi said he wants to stay with the children, but feared that Dave will report him to the police if he took them.
“The children run to their aunt because they get confused,” he said. “We have called a meeting to discuss the issue of the children as a family. Hopefully we will find a solution that will end their current predicament.”
While it has been found that children run away from home for several reasons such as poverty, unfavourable living conditions, physical abuse and in this case divorce, prominent Bulawayo lawyer Job Sibanda said under the Constitution, parents were liable for prosecution for neglecting the welfare of their children.
“Section 7 part III of the Children’s Protection and Adoption Act states that if any parent or guardian of a child or young person assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons or exposes him/her or allows, causes or procures him/her to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or to injure or detrimentally to affect his health or morals or any part or function of his mind or body, he shall be guilty of an offence,” said Sibanda.
Bulawayo City Council Housing and Community Services director, Isaiah Magagula, said although it was not council’s responsibility to look after street kids, they take them to children’s homes since they are within the boundaries of the municipality.
“There are social welfare organisations that cater for such children and since they are within the boundaries of the city, we help translocate them to children’s homes such as Thembiso Children’s Home in Luveve,” he said.