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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Legal experts call for legislation that protects children against social ills

Story by Fungai Jachi, Courts Reporter

THE conviction and sentencing of a Harare-based shebeen owner who sold alcohol to children has triggered debate on the safety and protection of children against exposure to alcohol and drugs.

The incident that occurred in December last year where a video of children drinking alcohol went viral on social media has exposed gaps in laws that protect children.

While the culprit who exposed the children to alcohol has been arrested and prosecuted, some gaps have been identified.

Legal experts believe the legislature should amend laws that protect children to effectively shield them from social ills in their various forms.

A lawyer, Mr Moffat Makuvatsine said, “This case has exposed a lot of things, including the fact that the protection of children in some instances is overlooked. The culprit in this instance was jailed, but there are more like him out there, what is happening to them? There must be a deliberate move by the legislature to come up with laws that deal with even the parents or guardians who send children to buy alcohol because that is where it begins.”

Another lawyer, Mr James Makiya said, “We realise that the enforcement of the law is lacking because the Liquor Act is clear that it is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone below 18 but that is being ignored. More must be done to make sure that children are kept away from alcohol or drugs. There must be a wholesome law that frowns upon the involvement of children with alcohol or drugs.”

While the legal experts are convinced that the two-year jail term handed to Phaeton Mutiyaya will send the right message to would-be offenders, they believe that more can still be done to ensure children are not exposed to alcohol and drugs.

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