Rwanda National Police has warned against any parent, guardian or anyone else that may force a child into street begging could face up to 3 years in prison.
At different hotspots in Kigali and other upcountry towns, it has become a habit to find street beggars – mostly children and women, either grabbing passengers in bus parks or storming meeting places to beg for money or food.
Others such as women carrying children are seen positioned at places used by pedestrians from early morning hours to evening begging for cash under the pretense of being either crippled or permanently damaged.
Yes, some have permanent disability such as blindness or left with no arms or legs and seen wheeled by their children.
But according to Police,this is a ‘bad habit’ and a crime that is charged by the law.
Article 691 of the Organic law n° 01/2012 of 02/05/2012 instituting the penal code states that any person who uses, encourages, takes or incites a child to beg, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of one year to two years.
The article adds that when the child used in begging has a physical or mental disability, the term of imprisonment shall be three (3) years.
In a statement issued by Rwanda National Police on Monday, Rwandans inciting children into this practice should consider tougher crack down.
Children sent to street begging not only suffer early cognitive issues, but also face serious attacks.
For instance, in April this year, watchmen set fire into a tunnel in Kigali’s central business district – instantly burning to death two street kids that were hiding there – an incident that caused outrage at the highest government authorities.
There is visibly an influx of street children across Kigali’s infamous spots such as Nyabugogo main bus park.
In Nyabugogo, more than 20 children – as young as 7-11 year-old are seen sniffing glue.
Last year, President-elect Paul Kagame directed that every Rwandan child should go to school for the country to prosper.
For Kagame, every child, whether with parents or not, should be in school as a matter of priority.
Following the President’s direction, Eastern Province announced that more than 24, 092 children who had dropped out of school resumed studies.
But in Ngororero district in Western Rwanda, a survey conducted by members of Parliament gave alarming figures. According to the survey, out of 7395 children who were enrolled in schools by June last year, 2992 had dropped out of school.
In a statement issued on Monday, police said street begging is becoming a public security and social risk and advised all beggars across the country to vacate streets and start engaging in small income generating projects.