Blantyre - Malawi has vowed to crack down on street
begging by arresting the beggars - who are mostly children and people living
Malawi's Gender, Disability and Social Welfare Minister
Patricia Kaliati told News24 on Tuesday that the arrests would also target
parents who send their children to beg and benefactors who give money to the
"Giving alms to street children and other beggars is a
pull factor that has encouraged them to continue begging daily in the
streets," she said.
She attributed the problem of street begging to negligence
of parents who fail to look after their children.
Kaliati said parents and guardians should be arrested for
breaking the Child Care, Protection and Justice Act of 2010, which lays a
foundation for the protection of all children in Malawi.
"The law is very clear. Parents should look after their
children by protecting them from exploitation, abuse and even neglect. Anyone
who neglects a child should be arrested because that person is committing a
crime," she said.
The minister added: "Those who are giving money to
beggars on the streets must be arrested too because it is against the law. Let
the well-wishers make donations to orphanages and vocational training
Kaliati said the ban would actually protect the beggars who
were abused in various ways, adding that children who grow into the streets
risk evolving into criminals in their adult life.
According to a survey conducted last year by the Ministry of
Gender in conjunction with a local charity, Chisomo Children's Club, there are
4 400 street kids in Malawi's towns and cities.
The survey revealed that only 400 street children were
genuinely homeless while the rest were living with their parents or relatives.
A single street beggar in Malawi rakes in a monthly income
of $220 (R3 300) or 150 000 Malawi Kwacha.
Meanwhile, street beggars have protested against the ban,
petitioning government to rescind it or offer them monthly stipends.
Mateyu Fabiano, a leader of street beggars in Malawi's
capital, Lilongwe, in a meeting with Kaliati, asked the government to start
paying them a monthly stipend of $75 (R1 130).
"We survive on alms. Since the ban, we are suffering as
we have no any other means of income generation," he said.
But Kaliati said the beggars should enroll in vocational
training institutions where they could learn trades such as tailoring and
carpentry while young ones should go to orphanages.
Grinding poverty, family breakdown and orphanhood due to HIV
and Aids are among the factors that that force children and people with
disabilities into street begging.
Over 60% of Malawi’s estimated 15 million population lives
below the income poverty line of $1.25 (R19) a day.