Child neglect is a criminal offence. However, a number of children are neglected by their parents or guardians for various reasons. The Penal Code, chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia provides under section 169 that:
“Any person who being the – parent, guardian; or person in charge of a
child that is unable to provide for itself, refuses or willfully neglects to
provide, being able to do so, sufficient food, clothes, bedding or other
necessities for such child, and thereby injures the health of such child,
commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding
one hundred thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not
exceeding three years or to both”.
In August 2014, case of child neglect was reported to ZCEA Chingola Desk. This involved a 13 year old girl named Agnes Mulenga who was abandoned by her biological mother when she was only 5 months old. This was as a result of a misunderstanding between the girl’s parents who were not married at the time. The girl was damped at her grandparent’s home (parents to the father) and has never been seen or heard of ever since. Thus, the girl was brought up by her grandmother whom she now considers to be her mother. The father has since married and lives in Luanshya were he is working as a miner.
The problem started in 2013 when the girl’s father decided to take her so that he could start living with her. The child was not for the idea but, she was convinced by her grandmother who encouraged her to join the father. The man promised to take good care of the child since he was working. However, things turned out to the contrary. The child was never enrolled in school and ended up being treated as a domestic servant by the step mother. As time went on, information on the girl’s plight reached the grandmother who reported the matter to ZCEA Chingola desk.
Upon receiving the complaint, the Chingola paralegals contacted the Zambia Police Victim Support unit in Luanshya who helped to retrieve the child. The child is now back to her grandmother’s home in Chingola were she since resumed her education.
In order to safeguard the interest of the child, the paralegals advised the child’s grandmother to apply to court for a maintenance order which would compel the father to start providing support for the child. The order would be valid until the girl attains the age of 18 years or upon completion of education.
The old lady was grateful for the service rendered and is currently working with the paralegals with regard to the maintenance application.