By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK The police are looking for the parents of 12 children, who are at the moment under the care of the Big Issue. The children, whose parents are from Windhoek, Okahandja, Rundu and Grootfontein found themselves in police cells at the coastal towns of Walvis Bay and Swakopmund since March 17, 2006. They were released to the Big Issue’s Social Development Programme, the Big Step last Saturday. The police are therefore calling on the parents of the children to come forward and collect them. The 12 are street children who some believe have been moving between Windhoek and Swakopmund since three years ago. Apparently, a certain man found the 12 kids and asked them to help him off-load some things after which he would pay them, but he did not keep his word. The kids then left in three groups of four for the coast, apparently to go and look for their parents although none of them come from there. But one group, which sneaked into a Transnamib cargo train, was discovered and handed over to the police at Usakos, who later handed them over to the state hospital in the care of a social worker. Big Step Coordinator Mathew Rukoro told New Era yesterday that the four kids escaped from Usakos seemingly to go and look for their colleagues in Swakopmund. After being informed of the escape, the police at the coast rounded up the kids and kept them at police holding cells in Walvis Bay and Swakopmund. After learning about their situation through the media, Mathew Rukoro, who coordinates the social development programme travelled to the coast to check on them. Three were released into the care of their parents. while one left on his own, some came back with Rukoro to Windhoek, while three others were sent to Okahandja police station, as they indicated that their parents were at the town. On Tuesday, the police again appealed to the parents of the children to come forward and collect them from the police station of Narraville, three days after the kids left the coast. Police spokesperson Warrant Officer James Matengu said yesterday the kids have since left and are in the care of the Big Issue but did not have any idea whether any of the parents had come forward. Rukoro also said none of the parents have come forward, maybe because they are afraid they may be charged with child neglect. Since the Big Issue does not have shelter for kids, it has arranged temporary accommodation for the kids. The three kids who were released into the care of their parents and the other one who left on his own have since come back and are also staying at the temporary shelter. Rukoro said five of the children, who are over 14 years of age, have since been enrolled in the vendor programme to sell the Big Issue magazine and earn some money for themselves. He said children end up on the streets due to social problems in their homes such as lack of food, parents abusing alcohol and also in most cases because of step -parents. They are also used by older people on the streets to sell merchandise, which in the end brings them some cash. The Big Issue plans to hold a stakeholders’ meeting with relevant authorities on the right approach to street children and also to see how the programme fits in. The children are now being counselled and also being given creative writing skills. They however need food and clothing. The names of the parents to whom the police are appealing are: Elsie Owoses, Adolfine Geingos and Flora Swartbooi of Windhoek, Kasiku Nan and Sebastian Kakao of Rundu, Maria of Grootfontein, Gotty and Elizabeth Rooinasie, Sara Goramus, Esther Shiwedo and also Paulina and Jonas Hendriks of Okahandja.
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