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Battle to keep child beggars off the streets

Sne Masuku

Sne Masuku

Mothers and children who used to beg around central Durban have disappeared from the streets since the municipality warned that adults who beg with children on the city's roads will be arrested.

The city has also asked motorists to stop contributing to adults who use children to beg. It says Good Samaritans are helping to put the children at risk.

Municipal manager Mike Sutcliffe said the city started the initiative to prevent the exploitation of children four years ago.

"This is not something new. We have been picking up these women and children and after establishing whether the woman was really the child's mother, we assisted them in getting state child support grants," Sutcliffe said.

He could not say how many child beggars had been removed from the streets.

Sutcliffe said the adults were not jailed the first time they were arrested.

"They are taken off the streets and discouraged from begging, especially using children who are supposed to be at school."

Instead of offering the beggars money, motorists have been urged to contribute to a shelter.

Unless they were placed in a homely environment and taken care of, the Inkatha Freedom Party said, removing child beggars from the streets reflected just another of the municipality's failures.

IFP chairman Zanele Magwaza-Msibi said the municipality should first determine how many beggars worked the city's streets and then plan how and where to house them.

The beggars needed jobs to support themselves and their children.

"It would be very sad if the municipality put them in a police van and then dumped them somewhere where they have no source of income at all," said Magwaza-Msibi.

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