eThekwini denies abuse of street kids
THE eThekwini municipality yesterday denied allegations that it "rounds up and uses brutal strategies" to deal with street children.
The denial by city officials comes as South Africans brace themselves for the 2010 Fifa World Cup. With 77 days to go before the start of the biggest event South Africa has ever hosted, the city is "working on a long-term strategy to deal with the street children problem".
This comes after one of Durban's leading street children organisations, Umthombo, met city officials and showed them video footage of what they call "the rounding up of street children".
Umthombo chief executive Tom Hewitt said the rounding up of street children "involves collecting the street children and forcefully removing them from the city".
The council's safer cities head, Martin Xaba, said this had never been the city's practice.
"Rounding up the children is neither the language nor the policy of the municipality. The video Umthombo says they have of city officials rounding up street children, only shows the children in a police van," he said.
"It does not show the beginning and end. We don't know if those children were in the van because of crimes they had committed. We only see them in the van. We believe that it is NGOs who get funding from international organisations who imply that we are rounding up street children because of 2010."
Xaba said the integration of street children into society formed a major part of their plan of dealing with the problem.
"This includes vagrants, displaced foreign nationals and generally people living on the city's streets," he said.
Hewitt welcomed the plan put forward by the city at their recent meeting to deal with the problem of street children.
"This is something Durban can be proud of. We are happy with the strategy proposed by the city. We have resolved a lot of the problems we had with the city concerning street children. Taking the children off the streets can only be done by taking a holistic approach," he said.
"We say no to the removal of the street children and yes to engaging the children in therapeutic interventions that can lead to sustainable integration."