SWAKOPMUND - Child neglect or abandonment is one of the issues that need urgent intervention from government and all stakeholders to hold such parents accountable for their actions.
This is according to retired nurse and Walvis Bay resident, Christina Namises, 67.
Namises who currently cares for her four grandchildren says such actions especially by mothers leave children with psychological and emotional trauma due to a lack of parental love and guidance.
She says such careless action puts the children in harm’s way.
Namises says her grandchildren were continuously left alone and exposed to all kinds of danger by their mother who developed a drinking problem.
“Something terrible could have happened to my grandchildren while they were alone. I don’t even want to think about the dangers they faced alone,” recollects Namises.
The children are aged between seven and 19 and have been living with her for the past five years in her two-bedroom house.
Namises, during an interview with New Era yesterday said that child neglect or abandonment might sound as an every day thing within Namibia but its effects have far reaching consequences for children.
“In my case for instance in our case, I have the means to care for them. Others might not be so lucky and end up being abused, raped, turned into domestic workers or even end up being killed,” she explained.
She is worried about the state of Namibian children, especially those that are left alone.
“We will be raising broken children that can end up on the wrong side of the law if we don’t step up now and hold accountable our children who are now parents to care for their children,” she said.
The Walvis Bay Women and Child Protection Unit says that they have charged three persons, one in Walvis Bay and two in Swakopmund for child abandonment or child endangerment.
Namibian police commander in Erongo, Commissioner Andreas Nelumbu said the issue is very complex and in most cases, the state tries to re-unite the children with the parents with the assistance of social workers that would monitor the situation.
“What many parents and guardians don’t understand is that leaving minor children unattended for days or even for five minutes can have disastrous consequences. Once something happen to such a child, you can even face a murder charge,” he cautioned.
The commissioner says most cases the state dealt with so far are often created by unemployment, lack of support and financial assistance especially among young mothers.
“In many instances, such mothers are unemployed and do not get financial support from their partners, resulting in them abandoning their children,” he said.
He added that there are also incidences whereby the children are either left at a neighbour or alone.
“The neighbour would then become worried and notify us who will often try to trace immediate family or the parents of the children,” he said.
According to Nelumbu, this specific scenario happens over month ends and weekends when some mothers go out and party.
“Although we deal with such issues regularly, we often try an intervention type of approach before we register a case, as the circumstances around the cases differ from person to person. We do not want to separate children from their parents,” he explained.
Ombudsman, Advocate John Walters who also shared his opinion on the matter said children’s rights and their protection as well as its broader dynamics will be one of the major issues his office will attend to this year.
He says the Children’s Act is very broad when it comes to the rights of children and clearly outlines the guidelines in terms of caring for children.
“What I can tell you is that we will be focusing intensely on the children’s rights this year. We have appointed a children’s advocate last year already and she will zoom in, on all issues affecting and related to children, be it their wellbeing or safety,” he noted.