Society stands by as minors run amok

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A DISTURBING video that surfaced on Christmas Day showing a group children drinking beer in Harare has attracted a lot of attention and left tongues wagging.


In the clip, the kids are seen drinking beer and seem to be having a great time, while adults nonchalantly go about their business.


Eleven children have since been identified by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).


On Friday, police also detained Phaeteon Mutiyaya, 23, the owner of an illegal liquor store in Mbare, for providing alcohol to minors.


In a statement, police said: “The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms the arrest of Phaeteon Mutiyaya (23) for supplying liquor to the minors.


“The suspect operates a shebeen at Block 2C10, Nenyere Flats, Mbare, Harare.”


After the video went viral and sparked a public uproar, the police initiated an investigation that led to the identification of some of the offenders and Mutiyaya’s arrest.


Concerns over the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors were triggered by the startling footage.


The video also raises concern on how kids frequently manage to gain entry to bars and other establishments where alcohol is readily available.


Societal decay


The nonchalance of the adults who saw the children drinking touched off public debate about the traditional roles older people used to play.


An earlier statement released by national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi revealed that the minors had purchased the alcohol with the assistance of an adult.


In addition, the statement disclosed that certain children were from dysfunctional households and were involved in street vending and begging.


The video, according to public opinion, is a reflection of what is happening elsewhere across the country.


Sale of alcohol


In addition to causing an outcry, the video raised awareness on problems related to drug and substance abuse among minors and the youth.


“This video tells the sad story of how young people are abusing drugs. What was happening in that video also happens in other places throughout the country,” Victor Nyambo, who resides in Harare’s high-density suburb of Kuwadzana, said.


The video also raised issues regarding child welfare.


Investigations by The Sunday Mail Society revealed that, while the law prohibits the sale of alcohol to those under the legal age of majority, liquor stores are selling the beverages to anyone, regardless of age.


Liquor stores menace


Government recently expressed concern over the sprouting of liquor stores across the country and how this trend derails its fight against drug and substance abuse.


Officially, there are 11 000 licensed liquor stores countrywide.


However, according to a recent verification exercise conducted by local authorities, there are more than 18 000 liquor stores operating throughout the country.


Investigations also revealed that alcoholic beverages such as Detroit and Mayfair, which are mostly smuggled from South Africa, are popular with minors.


Child welfare and bad parenting


Veteran actress Jesesi Mungoshi attributed bad behaviour such as drinking alcohol by minors to poor parenting and broken family ties.


She said in the past, children were raised by “a whole village”, with extended families taking a major role in the process.


“Traditionally, it was the responsibility of the entire community to raise a child. Family ties have since been broken and youngsters can do whatever they want,” Mungoshi said.


She said it is now difficult to reprimand a neighbour’s child due to some of the laws meant to protect the young.


This, she added, has created room for these bad behaviours to develop.


“We need pressure groups across communities to push for the amendment of the Constitution to allow for communal parenting, as was the case back in the day,” she added.

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