Police yesterday arrested a 27-year-old Harare woman from Whitecliff suburb for allegedly abusing her stepchildren aged five and three.
The woman, identified as Stella Kapuya, is alleged to have starved the children, resulting in the three-year-old girl suffering from kwashiorkor and both of them looked very malnourished.
When NewsDay visited their home in Whitecliff, a child rights organisation, Networking and Support for HIV/Aids Trust, had intervened after getting a tip-off from concerned neighbours and was in the process of seeking custody of the children who showed signs of lack of a bath for several days.
Police spokesperson Chief Inspector James Sabau confirmed the incident saying the woman was arrested and added stepparents should desist from ill-treating children because it was a serious offence.
“I would like to appeal to anyone who knows children that are being abused to report such cases to the victim-friendly unit at their nearest police station,” said Sabau.
“These units were set up solely for the purpose of taking care of the plight of children and domestic-related issues,” he said.
A programmes manager with Networking and Support for HIV/Aids Trust, Darryin Mupozori, told NewsDay that Kapuya had allegedly given the children only one meal per day saying if they ate more than once they would mess themselves.
“We have been investigating the case the whole of this week and these children have not been bathed for three days and have been putting on the same dirty clothes. They have sores all over their bodies and scars after being severely beaten up by Kapuya and they are being denied any medical attention by Kapuya. They are severely malnourished and the three-year-old is suffering from kwashiorkor,” said Mupozori.
Mavis Chiguru, the director of Networking and Support for HIV/Aids Trust, said if Kapuya was failing to take care of the children, the best thing to do was to surrender them to a home.