The community of Muizenberg has raised a concern about the increasing number of street children coming into the area. To clarify this situation the Muizenberg Community Safety Initiative (MSCI) approached Village Care CC and the Western Cape Street Children’s Forum (WCSCF) for answers. After extensive street level research by the above two organisations in collaboration with our community, we can now confirm that:
Currently there are no children, under the age of 18, living on the streets of Muizenberg.
There are however a number of young people, over the age of 18, who can be mistaken as children living on the street.
And there are approximately 10 children who live at home, but who regularly come onto the streets of Muizenberg to beg.
This means that the children we see begging at the beach, or around Checkers and Midmar, all live at home and all have been identified and included in the legally registered and mandated Village CareCC Outreach, Drop-in Center, School Support and Family Empowerment and intervention programmes. Therefore the only reason these children still come onto the Muizenberg streets to beg is the R300 a day or more they get from begging, along with the nice clothes and food they can exchange for the money. The children even change their appearance and hide their shoes so that tourists and members of the community are more inclined to give them money.
Yes, these children might be high-risk and from less than ideal family situations. The truth however is that the money, food and clothing they get from begging only serves to draw them out of school, away from the development programmes set up to help them, and to make them vulnerable to the negative influences, substance abuse and exploitation of the street environment. These children do not need to be begging on the street, they need to be in a constructive development environment. This is why we support organisations like Village Care who have returned 21 children back to school this year and who continue to stabilize another 16 to 20 children from Capricorn, Vrygrond, Retreat and Lavender Hill at any one time.
We therefore call on the Muizenberg Community to work together with Village Care and the WCSCF to bolster their planned holiday programme, a programme aiming to support high-risk children who, during the upcoming holidays, may drift towards the dangers of the street.
Marion Wagner, a Muizenberg resident and member of Safer Together and Muizenberg Community Safety Initiative (MSCI) calls on all the many talented, artistic and caring folk of the village who are willing to volunteer their time and skills to kindly support these holiday activities in one way or another to contact her on 081 425 0685.