‘Police did not beat streetkids’

‘Police did not beat streetkids’
    Barbara Cole
    July 07 2008 at 01:01PM

Metro Police who have been accused of beating a group of street children with sjamboks did not assault them, a witness has said.

"The police are blamed for many things, but those police officials did not hit the street children," said a flat-owner, who did not want her name revealed, but whose details are known to the Daily News.

She was reacting to a story in the Daily News in which British holidaymaker Joe Walker, who works for a children’s rights organisation in the UK, said that he looked out of his flat window in Grosvenor Court and saw billowing smoke and terrified children at the site of the former military museum on Snell Parade.

"I raced outside and across to the hillock opposite the museum and saw three Metro police officials lashing out at the children with sjamboks," he said.

Walker said he tried to intervene and asked the police to extinguish the fire.

"The three police officials were extremely menacing and threatened me with imprisonment," he said.

But the Daily News reader, who watched the proceedings from her flat in the nearby Caribbean block of flats, was adamant that while the police burned the children’s rubbish, plastic and cardboard, they did not hurt them.

The children, whom she thought were aged between 12 and 18 years, had been in the same area for weeks, hanging up their clothes, urinating and littering the area. They also used a nearby tap and left it running, she said.

Walker could not be contacted on Sunday night.

After Walker’s complaints, Metro Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Thokamile Tyala said an investigation would be launched.

 o This article was originally published on page 2 of Daily News on July 07, 2008

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‘We watched cops beat kids’

 ‘We watched cops beat kids’

    July 03 2008 at 12:35PM

By Vivian Attwood

Two British visitors to Durban expressed shock and disappointment with the city after witnessing and taking photos of Metro police officials harassing and intimidating a group of beachfront street children.

Child rights organisations have reacted in anger at the incident which took place on Tuesday, and eThekwini and Metro have started their own investigation, saying that the city did not condone such behaviour.

There has been a series of unconfirmed reports from street children that they had been rounded up before major tourism events and abandoned some distance from the city.

In 2007 the Daily News reported an incident where an attorney saw Metro police officials burning street children’s belongings.

Joe Walker and his wife, Annabelle, woke at about 7.15am in a flat in the Grosvenor Court building, overlooking the former Military Museum on Snell Parade, to be confronted by the sight of billowing smoke and terrified children.

"I could hardly believe what I was seeing, or the irony of the situation," said Walker.

"I work for a children’s rights organisation in the UK called Street Action and have been to Durban on previous visits to liaise with local NGOs that work with street children. I hardly thought I’d be confronted by blatant human rights violations while on holiday here, though.

"I raced outside and across to the hillock opposite the museum, and saw three Metro police officials lashing out at the children with sjamboks.

"My wife was documenting the events with her camera cellphone from the flat, and filmed the burning of the children’s clothes and other belongings by the police officials.

"Since we arrived in KwaZulu-Natal I have chatted to those particular street kids on a number of occasions, so I tried to intervene and request that the police extinguish the fire. The three police officials were extremely menacing, and threatened me with imprisonment.

"’These kids are the main cause of crime and drugs in this area,’ one of them bellowed," Walker said.

"That’s absolutely untrue. This particular group of children takes enormous pride in keeping their persons and clothing neat and clean, and none of them sniffs glue. They have seen what it does to their fellow street children."

Skating

Walker said that in his opinion, the city was skating on thin ice by courting potentially negative international media coverage of its stance towards street children.

"Apart from the aggression shown by the police officials, the fact that they arrived with both a police van and a large police transport vehicle makes it plain that if I hadn’t interceded, the children would have been forcibly removed from the area and dumped somewhere outside Durban, as they say has happened many times in the past," he said.

"It feels like these round-ups are being sanctioned from on high. We will definitely be putting the images we captured on our website.

"The Durban Metro Police need to realise that they are violating children’s constitutional rights. These are serious actions that will inevitably be exposed in the international media."

Later in the morning, several of the street children gravitated back to the site of Tuesday’s confrontation. They were clean and clear-eyed, but obviously very nervous.

"We are scared, but we don’t know where else to go," said a 16-year-old girl.

"They said they are coming back, and we don’t want to be put in the truck. Sometimes they take us very far from Durban and leave us there."

Metro Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Thokamile Tyala said the incident had not been brought to his attention, but that an investigation would be launched.

"I must stress that we do respect children’s human rights," he said.

"If these events happened, then those responsible will be called to account and can be punished. They are not above the law, and due processes will be followed."

City manager Michael Sutcliffe said: "If this incident took place as it has been described, action will be taken against those involved. I will need a full report from the Metro Police. Until I have had a chance to examine it, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Joan van Niekerk, national director of Childline, said she was "absolutely appalled by the allegations".

"This is the second fairly serious incidence of police brutality towards children that has been reported to Childline in 2008," she added.

"The first, in the North West, required the intervention of the Child Law Centre in Pretoria."

Van Niekerk said that Tuesday’s incident underlined the extent to which vulnerable children on the street were "not seen as human beings but another genus altogether".

Tom Hewitt, chief executive officer of the Umthombo Street Children advocacy organisation, said: "Metro Police seem to be operating unilaterally."

In contrast, the municipality’s City Health department and the Point and Durban Central SAPS have in 2007 embarked on positive steps towards more compassionate and strategic solutions to the issue.

          o This article was originally published on page 3 of Daily News on July 03, 2008

Growing army destitutes alarming, House told

Growing army destitutes alarming, House told
Dailynews Reporter
Daily News; Thursday,July 03, 2008 @00:02

Over half of the parents residing along Mahita Street in Morogoro Municipality engage their children in street begging to earn a living. The Deputy Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children, Dr Lucy Nkya, revealed in the National Assembly yesterday that the facts were revealed in a survey conducted in the area recently.

"Some 60 per cent of the parents interviewed admitted that they send their children to streets to beg and bring back to them what they got," she said when answering Special Seats Legislator, Mrs Kidawa Hamid Saleh (CCM) who expressed concern over the practice.

Mrs Saleh said street begging was humiliating to children and called for stern measures against such parents. The deputy minister who attributed the problem to poverty said the government was working on the matter. Mrs Saleh had also wanted to know reasons that drove people into the streets and the rising number of the so-called street kids.

She said the government had no official statistics on the magnitude of the problem, although a number of studies that covered selected areas and for different purposes were conducted by various government institutions, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and religious institutions.

Dr Nkya said currently her ministry was negotiating with the International Consortium for Street Children of the UK through the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam to carry out a nation-wide study to establish the extent of the problem. "Findings of the studies will help the government develop a sustainable programme of solving the problem," she said.

Senior experts,officials vow to protect orphans and street children

Senior experts,officials vow to protect orphans and street children PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 28 June 2008

Adama, June 28 (WIC) – Senior experts and officials working in areas related to children vowed to protect orphans and street children from abuse.

While concluding a workshop organized to discuss on ways of protecting orphans yesterday, the senior experts and officials drawn from the federal government and nine states said they would firmly stand for the protection of orphans and street children.

Workshop participants Genet Tadesse and Meseret Mamo said they would fulfill their responsibilities by establishing care and support system to save those children from the harsh conditions.

They said an integrated system should be put in place to abolish the disorganized activities of governmental and non-governmental organizations operating in the sector.

Representatives of the Amhara and Oromia states presidents’ offices, Solomon Zewde and Fekadu Ayana,said on their part they would work in collaboration with the public and the pertinent bodies so as to prevent violence against children, child trafficking and ensure the rights of children.

Member of the Social Affairs Standing Committee of the House of People’s Representative, Legesse Negash, stated that active participation of the society, governmental and non-governmental organizations is vital to solve the problems of children.

More than 100 senior experts and officials drawn from the House of People’s Representatives, state councils, justice and social affairs ministries, state and federal HIV/AIDS offices, local and foreign NGOs took part in the five-day workshop.

Myth of JEM child soldiers

Myth of JEM child soldiers

Friday 27 June 2008 04:15.

By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

June 26, 2008 — Observers say it is not a coincidence that the report by the London-based human rights group Waging Peace, to emerge in less than one month after the ruling NCP political propaganda machine accused the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of using child soldiers in the Operation Long Arm (OLA) to launch its attack on Omdurman, showing some young men with facial injuries on TV footage. Waging Peace Organisation alleged in its report that refugees from the Darfur conflict as young as nine years old are being sold to armed rebel groups including Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) as child soldiers! Analysts thought that report lacked credibility, barefaced lie and the Waging Peace Organisation seemed as though worked in collusion with the infamous genocidal National Congress Party (NCP) regime and promoted the views of the pariah government of Sudan (GOS) against JEM. The organisation has landed itself in trouble by its heavy handed approach to a delicate matter at an inappropriate time.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has got in its Organizational Structure a legal Secretariat/Department responsible for passing regulations which oblige the movement to abide by the Geneva Convention that prohibits enlistment of children as soldiers. JEM has never recruited children in its ranks. The JEM Statute strictly prohibits recruitment of men under the age of 18. Moreover, JEM has a humanitarian coordination officer who ensures compliance with this rule. The accusation was a drunken farce, blatant lie at its best and malicious allegation at its worst. Critics who understand the devilish tactics and dirty tricks of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) of the NCP say that the children shown in the Sudan government television channel were street children who had been rounded up, subjected to bullying measures, beaten or lured them into a trap for the sake of their badly directed melodrama of smear campaign against JEM. There are credible reports that some of these children were taken from Qura’nic schools, such as Suaad al-Fatih, in the three- town Capital City of Khartoum.

This is a cheap political ploy which the genocidal regime in Khartoum has devised to tarnish the image of the Justice and Equality Movement. However, the National Congress Party elements, as always, had failed in their barmy dirty tasks. People have thought it was incumbent upon Waging Peace to exercise responsibility of being impartial when passing judgements on such sensitive issues. JEM wants to make its position abundantly clear that it has managed to attract into its membership enough number of brave and able adults to stand steadfast, defend and fight for the noble cause of the people of Sudan in Darfur. JEM, therefore, does not need to ever resort to use child soldiers.

In order to shed some light on the plight of children in Sudan under the reign of the National Congress Party (NCP) regime, it is worthwhile to obtain background information. Numbers of children on the streets of Khartoum have started to increase rapidly ever since the early 1980s, when many families moved there to escape the war in southern Sudan and the drought afflicting the western regions of Kordofan and Darfur. Two-thirds of the street children in Khartoum the National Capital of Sudan are estimated to sniff petrol-based tyre repair glue.Available data on child labour and street children in Sudan suggests that the number of street children in northern Sudan was around 70000 by the end of the year 2002, with 73% of these living in the streets of Khartoum. Boys make up around 86% of those on the streets, and girls 14%. According to Sudanese Juvenile Law (1983), “Vagrant is the boy or girl under 18 years who is vulnerable to delinquency, homeless or unable to show the way to his/her resident caretaker, or unable to give sufficient information about himself/herself.” They are considered a vagrant if they spend the night on the street, abandon their parents/guardians, engage in begging, prostitution or other ‘immorality’, or if they associate with suspected criminals. According to the Temporal Decree of Public Control Law of Khartoum State 1996, street children are defined more concisely as ‘a person who has no apparent resident place or apparent work for gaining’. It is noteworthy that both legal definitions assume children to go onto the streets according to their own will, without any consideration of the causes that may push them to do so. Social definitions are slightly different, and recognise the distinction between children on the street (who return home at night) and children of the street (who struggle alone without family support). They are often referred to as ‘abandoned’ children. Violence, kidnapping, family separation or disability as well as drought, floods, famine and disease have all had a negative impact on Sudan’s children. Among others factors, civil wars and inequitable socio-economic structure are considered the main root causes of the street children phenomenon in Sudan.

The Government of Sudan (GOS) is famous for recruiting children as soldiers in its armed forces during the wars it waged against its own citizens. In August 2006 the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan condemned the practice of recruiting child soldiers in Sudan in a report to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) implicating the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in child recruitment in southern Sudan, in Khartoum, and in child abduction and sexual violence in Darfur. His report said this continued despite peace deals in southern Sudan and the western Darfur region. The report also said sexual and other violence against children by army and militia groups persisted in southern and western Sudan. Mr Annan urged the leaders of Sudan’s Government of National Unity and the regional government of southern Sudan to end child recruitment. He added saying:” The current peace processes in Darfur and southern Sudan offer a real opportunity for the leaders of the Sudan to end the practice of recruitment and use of children once and for all." Furthermore, Mr Annan’s report stated that the National and Southern governments are directly accountable for violations by individuals under their command.

The children shown on the Sudanese television screen after 10th May 2008 were the victims of the wars kindled by the ruling genocidal National Congress Party (NCP) regime in Khartoum, the entity that deprived those children of their parents, economic and social rights and turned their lives upside down. Haphazardly dumping charges and passing fiery unsubstantiated judgements is reprehensible. It is incumbent upon the Waging Peace Agency to perfect its homework prior to hurriedly declaring unfounded allegations based on a pack of lies against JEM. 13 heads and leaders of all the refugee camps in eastern Chad made a strong statement in which they condemned the Government of Sudan (GOS) and the Waging Peace Organisation for the deplorable allegation that Sudanese refugees have been engaged in child trafficking and crimes of moral turpitude selling blood of their children to the armed movements in exchange for food and sustenance. Furthermore, they discredited what has been reported by the Waging Peace agency about child trafficking in camps for Sudanese refugees in Chad as totally groundless and added it has nothing to do with reality and has no existence except in the imagination of the government and delusions of some organizations with profane purpose
affiliated falsely to humanitarian work.

Analysts believe that Waging Peace has made colossal error in judgement and it was wrong. It does indeed need to prove its allegation or it owes JEM a written apology. Would Waging Peace Do That? That is a sixty-four dollar ($64) question awaits an answer.

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at mahmoud.abaker@gmail.com.

Food first, then we talk politics

Food first, then we talk politics
Katlego Moeng     Published:Jun 23, 2008

Thousands of youngsters live on the streets with empty stomachs and constant fear

As Youth Month — during which young people are encouraged to embrace the freedoms of democracy — draws to a close, many children still feel marginalised by society.

Vusi Stida, 15, originally hails from Vereeniging but now ekes out a living on the streets of Hillbrow. He has been in Johannesburg for about a year but has been a street child for more than five .

“I don’t understand what you mean by democracy,” said Vusi, who is barely literate. When told about children’s rights, he shrugged his shoulders as if hearing a foreign language.

Despite the cold weather, Vusi was wearing a short-sleeved shirt when The Times spoke to him. He shivered in the winter-afternoon breeze.

His only sources of warmth are a fire, which other street children gather around, and a threadbare blanket he shares with a younger friend.

“It is painful living here. I just want a place to stay and I would love to go back to school,” he said.

But Vusi can’t go home.

“My father died when I was still very small and I don’t know the rest of my family because they don’t like my mother … she drinks a lot. So I have to go out and beg for money to get something to eat,” he said.

The child-rights organisation South African Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 60000 children live on South Africa’s streets. According to its statistics, about 1000 children are murdered in South Africa every year, 24000 child sexual abuse cases are reported annually and 1500 children disappear.

Like Vusi, many youths are not reflected in these figures because they are not reported missing and are not registered with a shelter.

Organisations like the Tshwane Alliance for Street Children work tirelessly in dealing with neglect, abuse and homelessness among children, but they say they can only reach a limited number. The organisation houses more than 180 children and its outreach programmes help more than 400.

The alliance’s chairman, Tahiyya Hassim, said: “Poverty and abuse — sexual, physical and psychological — are the main reasons children leave home. But they withstand abuse for many years before going to the streets.”

Some children are thrown out by their families.

Lynne Cawood, of Childline, said: “About 42 percent of boys and 43 percent of girls experience forced sex before 18.”

A despondent street child, Madenza, said: “I can’t live at home, but I can’t live in a shelter either. The police harass us, like this week they came at night and took our blankets. They said they don’t want us on the streets.

“The girls prostitute themselves so they usually have a place to stay,” he said.

Rev Steve Ugo, of Tower of Salvation Ministries, has also come to the aid of the street children . He said the only way to guarantee a good future is by looking after the young.

“Illiteracy and ignorance are dangerous because these are tomorrow’s adults. What kind of tomorrow is this?”

Prostituted girls’ parents not found

Prostituted girls’ parents not found
Nivashni Nair     Published:Jun 18, 2008
Fears that two youngsters will return to the streets

Their parents did not try to find them and it seems the only person who wanted them was the pimp who sold them.

Durban police have not found the parents of two girls, aged between eight and 12, whom they rescued two weeks ago. A man had allegedly been selling them on the city’s notorious Mahatma Gandhi Road (formerly Point Road) for sex.

A 35-year-old man, who has been arrested, allegedly paid them R300 of the R1000 he charged their customers.

The girls lived on the streets and the police have not established where they come from.

They are being cared for at a safe house but, according to those who assist street children, the likelihood of the girls returning to the streets is high.

Vusi Khoza, of the non-government organisation Street Children Operation Siza, said he would not be surprised if the girls ran away from the safe house.

“Right now, these two little girls do not realise that they have been saved — they feel like they are being punished. One has to understand the mentality of a street child to understand why they run away,” he said.

“Most often, these children run away from home because there are rules there. Now these girls are back in a situation where, at the safe house, they are guided by rules.”

“ Once they have to fend for themselves, they become vulnerable and are exploited. This is when they become drug runners and prostitutes and resort to other crimes. It is shocking that they are as young as eight years old,” Khoza said.

“I am almost certain that these girls are missing the friends they bonded with on the streets and they also miss the money they were getting from the pimp.

“When they are older, they will understand that they were exploited but right now I doubt they realise how this has affected their future. Luckily, there are people out there who can help them.”

Durban police spokesman Superintendent Muzi Mngomezulu confirmed that the police were trying to track down the girls’ parents and that a man is in custody pending a court appearance. T he man was on parole after being convicted of a drug-related crime.

A triumph for Durban’s street children

A triumph for Durban’s street children

    June 16 2008 at 12:28PM

By Vivian Attwood

On Friday, just in time for Monday’s celebration of Youth Day, nine special youths underwent a rite of passage at the Durban Children’s Home (DCH) in Glenwood.

The teenagers wore broad smiles, and carried themselves with new-found confidence as they accepted their certificates of graduation from the I Care/DCH Khutaza Adolescent Development Programme.

Among the graduates were Keegan Zulu, 16, and Fundu Shezi, who recently turned 20. These youngsters featured in the article "Breaking ties with the street" (Daily News June 9).

The tenth and final episode in our series on the lives of Durban’s street children, the story highlighted the feelings of sadness and abandonment these two teens have had to live with.

The I Care programme, aimed at developing life skills in children who have made the decision to abandon street life, has made a significant difference to the outlook and future prospects of Zulu, Shezi and their fellow graduates.

All are now aware they did not forfeit any of their rights as human beings when they lived on the streets.

"I learned that I am a person, just like any other person. I will return to my studies because I want to get a job and have my own family one day," said Shezi.

"I have learned to respect myself and others, and to show love," added Zulu.

The three-month I Care programme is just the first step on a long road for youngsters who are leaving the streets, but they will be monitored by the organisation as they are reintegrated into their communities and resume their schooling.

For perhaps the first time in their young lives, these teenagers can hold their heads up high as they join the rest of the country in celebrating National Youth Day.

The I Care Adolescent Development Programme is entirely dependent on donations from the public and business sector.

The programme that has just ended was made possible by the Southern Sun group.

If you would like to make a contribution to the cost of running the next programme, these are the banking details for the organisation: Nedbank, Account number 1648064566, KZN Business Branch, Code 164826.

For inquiries, call Linda Treadwell at 083 479 3941 or 031 572 6870, or visit the I Care website at: http://www.icare.co.za

Uganda: Kabale to Build Remand Home for Street Children

Uganda: Kabale to Build Remand Home for Street Children
The Monitor (Kampala)

16 June 2008
Posted to the web 16 June 2008

Robert Muhereza
Kabale

The problem of street childern in Kabale District may soon come to an end after the completion of a multi-million vulnerable children’s home, a project being undertaken by Lift Jesus Global Ministries Church through its project of Hope Africa Children Ministry.

The church leader, Mr Aloysius Kiiza revealed this on Tuesday while addressing the press at the site in Nyakambu Kirigime ward in Kabale municipality.

About 100 former street and orphaned children are being housed and rehabilitated. He explained that the idea was hatched after a survey on the causes of the increasing numbers of street children in the district.

"We established that domestic violence, the HIV epidemic and early pregnancies are some of the causes of the rising number of street children, " Mr Kiiza said. "We have decided to construct a permanent home for these vulnerable children so that they can have hope for a better future."

He said well wishers from the United States, Compassion International and other friends of Lift up Jesus Global ministries church are some of the founders of the childrens rehabilitation programme.

Mr Kizza said about 60 former street children who were picked from the streets in 2004, have been rehabilitated and are currently undergoing primary and secondary school education.

"We thank God for this achievement and pray he helps us to raise the money to rehabilitate more children in south western Uganda," Apostle Kizza said.

He said most of the children have confessed to pick pocketing, drug use especially marijuana and sniffing of petrol as common practices.

"We are proud to have rehabilitated these street kids into God fearing persons," Mr Kiiza added saying several abandoned babies have also been rescued.

He said Kabale Referral Hospital has supported their project by supplying ARVs drugs to HIV infected street children. Mr Kizza said lack of enough facilities to cater for the children is the biggest challenge the centre is currently experiencing.

Rwanda: Tougher Approach Needed for Street Children School

Rwanda: Tougher Approach Needed for Street Children School
The New Times (Kigali)

12 June 2008
Posted to the web 12 June 2008

Kigali

School of Champions, a newly established rehabilitation and vocational training facility for former street children situated in Rwamagana, is already experiencing problems.

Sponsored by a continental NGO – African Evangelistic Enterprises – the project intends to save street children from destitute life. By so doing, the school will also take some burden off the foster homes that feed the school.

Understandably, the challenges the school is faced with in just a space of two weeks are related to indiscipline. It is not even a month after starting and the adapted kids are capable of finding their way out to look for drugs.

A journalist who caught up with the lads and inquired into their short experience was largely greeted by lamentation. They complained bitterly of being underfed, confessing their wish to return to the foster homes.

The school administration refutes the children’s allegations of inadequate food, pointing to their complicated past life as a gripping negative influence they will take time to be separated from.

The director of the school also observed that with the children still able to access drugs, crying for more food is expected. The approach used by the faith-based institution leans heavily on persuasion, with little or no coercion at all.

The kids are preached to with the hope that over time the word of God will penetrate deep enough to cause change of mindset to that which appreciates decent current and future life. The first month has been devoted to such intensive teachings.

Perhaps it is too early to have real fears as to whether the objectives will be achieved. Nevertheless, it still might be reasonable considering a mixed approach even at this early stage, say by tightening the school rules.

Sealing the entrances and exits to control unwanted movement of children and commodities is a thing the administration may want to consider. The school may also take a less defensive position and delve into the alleged matters of insufficient food quantities.

It is our view that even as we make the suggestions above, the unenviable task at the hands of the NGO, given the nature of the engagement, must be appreciated.