Poverty Pushes Malawian Children to Street Crime

June 6, 2022

By Raisa Okwaras

 The growing poverty and hunger levels in Malawi are forcing little children out of their homes and into the streets. The children end up mugging people to find something for survival.

Right now, Malawi has approximately fifteen thousand children who have resorted to street life as a survival tactic.

Every day, people get mugged in the streets of Malawi as they go about their normal life. For instance, Emily Maere had traveled to Blantyre city to do some shopping for her small grocery shop. She opted to use her ATM instead of cash.

Unbeknownst to her, some children were tracking her. Right after she withdrew the money from the ATM station, the little ones robbed her.

No sooner had I finished the withdrawal than the group of street children attacked me, snatching my purse,” said the 25-year-old.

One main effect of having children commit crimes on the streets is the rising number of ‘accidental’ police killings. For example, in May, a homeless Precious Kalajila, 16, was shot dead by police officers at 2 a.m. in the streets of Malawi’s Lilongwe in what was termed an accidental shooting.

The police officers claim that the late Kalajila was in the company of three young men. They were chased after by police officers as they were attempting to break into a shop. Sadly, the bullet got into his buttock and he bled to death.

According to campaigners and police officers, the rise in cases of hunger and food insecurity in the country is putting pressure on families to look for alternative ways of survival. Sadly, children feel the weight, and most have resorted to street crime.

These children do not have proper accommodation- some live under bridges-and access to food is a major challenge. Hence, they rob people to feed themselves,” said Hastings Chigalu, who is the Lilongwe police spokesperson.

A recent IPC Chronic Food Insecurity report shows that approximately 5.8 million Malawians face moderate or extreme food insecurity caused by abject poverty as well as the current shocks.

Malawi’s Minister for Education and Social Welfare Patricia Kaliati stated that the government had launched an operation to get children off the Malawian streets and back to their homes and the education system.

We are working towards the elimination of problems that are driving children to the streets, but this can only be achieved if we jointly work to attain this goal,” she stated.

The original article was first shared by The Guardian.

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