Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati has said street begging negatively affects the education of children who abandon school to beg with their parents with disabilities.
Kaliati spoke in a telephone interview on Thursday in response to The Nation’s inquiry following a protest by some people with disabilities who went to Malawi Council for the Handicapped (Macoha) head office in Limbe and accused the institution of stopping members of the Asian business community from giving them alms.
The minister, who issued the directive, said the people also petitioned her office during the week on the same issue. She said her response was that street begging only degrades them as others insult the beggars.
Said Kaliati: “I have told them the behaviour brings down the education of their children because instead of being in school, the children are the ones who accompany their disabled parents to the streets to beg, and this behaviour will not end their poverty in any way.
“In some cases the children are exposed to various behaviours that put them at a risk of contracting HIV and Aids and early pregnancies. The children should be sent to school so that they should support their disabled parents once they get educated.”
She said her ministry has institutions such as Mulanje Vocational Training Centre for the Blind, Kamuzu Vocational, Rehabilitation and Training Centre for Disabled Persons and Magomero Community Development Training College that equip people with disabilities with skills to venture into businesses.
Limbe Police Station confirmed that on March 29 Macoha lodged a complaint that people with disabilities stormed their offices and were posing a threat.
Last month, during a security meeting between police and the Asian business community in Blantyre, Limbe Asian Community acting chairperson Makbul Latif said begging is a nuisance to residents and appealed to the community to stop giving alms to beggars.
Begging in Malawi is a criminal offence under Section 180 of the Penal Code. Thus anyone found wandering or placing themselves in a public place, seeking alms, causing, procuring or encouraging any child to do so, is termed an idle disorderly person and can be arrested and charged.