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Disability for sale

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Disability for sale

Story by Theophilus Chuma

CHILD rights experts have red-flagged a syndicate exploiting children with disabilities in Harare, amid shocking revelations that the victims are enduring the worst conditions as baits for begging.

Under the scorching heat, a small figure is wheeled up and down the busy traffic jungle at corner Samora Machel and Rotten Row, one of Harare’s busiest intersections.

The heat stress has taken a huge toll on the child, as he visibly struggles to sit in his wheel chair, but his minder cares little for his welfare, eyeing the next good samaritan for an extra dollar to add onto their daily collections.

For over a month, ZBC News tracked the story to expose a well-orchestrated syndicate taking advantage of children with disabilities.

Today it’s one minder, the next minute it’s another, until the shift ends at six in the evening.

With the evidence in hand, ZBC News finally confronted those who claim to be family.

Reporter: “Tell me the name of this child, how old is he?”

“I don’t know his name, I only use him to beg for money on the streets. This is our way of living.”

Reporter: “So you tell me you are not concerned about the health of this child, all this heat is not even a worry for you?”

“It’s only today that we forgot his hat, but he always has his hat.”

The God-mother of the syndicate who rests under the shade of a nearby tree is asked her how she is related to the child, her response, “she is my sister’s child.”

What follows next is a barrage of insults and accusations.

The welfare of the child, obviously the least of her worries.

Apart from the extreme heat which could trigger health complications, child rights experts say this is the worst kind of exploitation.

Executive Director – Zimbabwe Network for the Rights of children Reverend Taylor Nyanhete says, “It’s criminal for these people to be doing this to children, especially knowing that they have a special condition that needs attention. This calls for strict enforcement and arrest of those people who are abusing children in this manner.”

Across most intersections in Harare, it appears many are using children with disabilities as innocent pawns to line their pockets.