Blankets for 95 mentally challenged children disappear

Simbarashe Mtembo

MIRROR REPORTER

MASVINGO – Some 95 mentally challenged children housed at the Roman Catholic-run Alfred Walter Hostels in Masvingo have allegedly been refused blankets donated to them by TM Pick n Pay Supermarkets as the wrangle for control between the hostel and Zimcare rages on.

TM Pick n Pay recently donated 200 blankets to mentally challenged children at Zimcare. The place has 110 mentally challenged children and 15 are staying in a Zimcare classroom block that has been turned into a hostel while 95 are staying at the Roman Catholic-run hostels.

The arrangement has been that the Roman Catholic Church which is the founder of the place provides accommodation while Zimcare provides classrooms and teachers for the children’s special education.

However, recently Zimcare wanted to accommodate the children as well allegedly with the motive to earn money from donors and take control of a Government grant, but the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Tumisang Thabelo barred them from doing so because the school has no standard hostels. Officials told The Mirror that Alfred Walter Hostels get 63% with Ratidzo getting 37% of the Government grant.

The school has however, with the blessing of the acting Provincial Education Director (PED) Shylatte Mhike and the District Schools Inspector (DSI) Ishmael Chigaba defied the order and managed to coerce 15 of the children into a school classroom block where girls and boys share it as a hostel.

The 200 donated blankets were handed over to Zimcare, but 95 of the children who are staying at Alfred Walter Hostels have still not gotten anything despite the chilling weather.

Sr Maria Murwira who runs the Hostels confirmed the donation of at least one blanket for every child and two blankets each for the majority of them. She however, said that she is in the dark as to what happened to the blankets as 95 of them have not gotten anything from the consignment that came from Pick and Pay.

Zimcare head Sabelo Zivurawa hung up his phone when contacted for a comment.

Mhike said she only takes care of the education side of the children and has nothing to do with the welfare when The Mirror called her for comment.

Pick n Pay Masvingo branch manager Smart Chivhuna referred questions to his superiors.

A concerned source that called The Mirror said that the then Acting Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Paul Mavima recently ordered the school authorities to return the 15 children back to Alfred Walter Hostels where there is appropriate accommodation.

The children at Zimcare are now also learning from classrooms where food is prepared from the other corner.

The source who spoke to The Mirror on condition of anonymity said that the buck stops with Mhike.

“The situation at Zimcare is disgusting and Mhike has simply failed the children. The whole province depends on her for the safety and welfare of the children and it is disgusting for her to say that her obligation is just on the education side,” said the source.

Parents who gathered at the school recently however, expressed grave concern that Zivurawa is using the students to attract donors while neglecting their welfare.

The parents resolved to petition Chigaba and Mhike and Thabelo over the ‘gross abuse’ of their children.

Some parents however, alleged that Chigaba and Mhike were part and parcel of the drive to divert donors to the school. They said sending a petition to the two was a waste of time because they are an interested part.https://masvingomirror.com

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