THE banishment of five siblings from the same family by villagers in a chiefdom in Chibombo district, Central Province, for being habitual thieves made sad reading indeed.
This is a typical example of the negative impact of failed or broken marriages on innocent children.
Their father and mother are on separation. The mother went to live with her relations in a distant village leaving their eight children with their father.
It is like the father is overwhelmed by the huge responsibility if caring for the children, especially the younger ones.
In the absence of their mother, and because of poor parental guidance from their father, the children have ended up picking up anti-social behaviour, which is not only threatening their future but also putting them at great risk of being lynched by angry community members.
They are stigmatised and have become targets of hate speech.
The five brothers with the oldest being 20 years old and the two youngest aged below 10 years have been stealing from villagers,56 laying their hands on anything they find exposed regardless of the owner.
Two factors might have influenced this deviant behaviour: hunger or boredom.
Left to fend for themselves by their overwhelmed father the children might have resorted to crime as a survival strategy, or might have been doing it out of boredom or sheer adventure.
Fed up with the children’s thieving village leaders held a meeting where they resolved that the young thieves be expelled from the village and sent to their mother.
One of the leaders who spoke on behalf of the others said efforts by the community to help the children change their behaviour had been futile as they had continued stealing.
He said even as the meeting to decide their fate the kleptomaniac children broke into the house of a former headman and stole an amplifier. When the gadget was recovered at the young thieves’ home some components were missing.
The villagers believe that the oldest sibling aged 20 is the ring leader and teacher of the brotherly gang.
They believe he is the one who has taught the younger ones to steal other people’s things.
This is a sad story which should attract the attention of relevant government organs such as the Department of Social Welfare in the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services.
We urge the district commissioner’s office in Chibombo to get in touch with the Sun newspaper on 0963 867719 or editor@thezambiansun.com to get more details about the exact village and chiefdom where these children are.
Banishing them from the village will not help the children but may just harden them further as they will feel rejected by society and adopt more rebellious behaviour.
What they need is an environment where they feel safe and wanted; where they feel important and responsible.
Right now they do not know that society expects certain behaviour from them for them to be accepted and protected.
Non-governmental organisations such as Plan Zambia, ChildFund, Save the Children and World Vision should also take interest in helping these five children. They can be rehabilitated and given a future through education.
We are confident that what the children need is love, care and guidance to become responsible citizens of this great country. Let us help them now.

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