By Nqobile Tshili
POLICE in Bulawayo have arrested 224 pupils for conducting a Vuzu party at Umguza Rest Camp on the outskirts of Bulawayo.
Following the arrest of the children some as young as 13 years of age and young adults aged 20 on Saturday, police yesterday warned parents and guardians that they also risked being arrested for failing to take care of their children.
Of late, school going children have been holding Vuzu parties where they engage in sexual activities, alcohol and drug abuse.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Province police spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango said they could charge parents for negligence for failing to take care of their children in terms of the country’s laws.
She said police have noted with concern that even after cautioning and releasing children taking part in such wild parties into the custody of their parents and guardians, no desired behaviour changes have been noted.
“Now we’re going to take further action and charge them (parents) with child negligence as stipulated in the Children’s Act. It’s high time we act on parents who are failing to take care of their children,” said Insp Simango.
“We’ve been giving them warning shots and encouraging them to conscientise their children on the dangers of alcohol abuse. They must take keen interest on the whereabouts of their children.”
She said the 224 children were arrested after an alert police officer intercepted a kombi that was transporting some of the pupils to the party venue.
“Our police officers were manning a road block along Victoria Falls Road at Nyamandlovu turn off. They intercepted a kombi carrying 18 children who said they were going to celebrate the Heroes Holiday at the Rest Camp.
“The officer took interest and rode in their vehicle to discover that there was a crowd of teens conducting a Vuzu party in the area,” she said.
Insp Simango said the children were arrested while the owner of Rest Camp was charged for allowing underage children to drink alcohol at a licensed spot.
“We charged Rest Camp for allowing underaged children to drink beer at a licensed bar. He, however, claimed that he didn’t know that they were abusing alcohol. We want to urge businesspeople not to be fooled by children or allow children in their premises,” said Insp Simango.
She said the children brought their alcohol from the city and most were said to be pupils at Northlea High School. Efforts to verify this with the school failed yesterday.
Inspector Simango said after rounding up the children they were taken to four police stations in the city.
“Because of the magnitude of the children we divided the boys from girls. For the girls we took them to Sauerstown and Donnington Police stations while the boys were taken to Hillside and Queens Park Police stations,” said Insp Simango.
She said police confiscated condoms, and almost every brand of liquor that is on the market during the raid. The 224 were later released into the custody of their parents. The Chronicle