Mbabane: Being at home during this lockdown period may lend people living with disabilities prone to abuse by individuals, which may call for the immediate intervention of the Deputy Prime Minister’s office. Reports gathered by this publication have shown that the mentally challenged especially children are feeling the brunt of the pandemic due being uncontrollable, which leads to caregivers getting violent.
ASD Director and Founder, Tryphina Mvubu said she got a report that a grown man pounced on a mentally challenged child and grievously assaulted him, kicking him while also using open hands. This man is said to have been retaliating on behalf of his own child who was allegedly beaten by the disabled using a digging pin (umgcala). The challenged child is said to have repeatedly used the pin to hit the other child on the forehead until he bled profusely. The name of the man will not be given because he has not been formally charged.
According to Mvubu, she learnt from an undisclosed source who heard hysterical cries from a nearby homestead and on investigation found that the disabled child had been hurt. The director said the child has since been taken to a health facility where he will be examined of any possible internal damage. At the time of writing this a police report had not been compiled which would lead to the arrest of the perpetrator.
Mvubu mentioned that children with disabilities especially those with mental disorders, out of being misunderstood and frustration would often act out which would lead to violence. She said in the midst of COVID-19 children with mental disorders will not understand the changes brought by the pandemic like the adherence to the regulations to avoid the spread of the virus. She said for instance they will rebel against anyone inhibiting their movement. This may lead to violent behaviour, said Mvubu. She said in the wake of the pandemic her organization equips parents with game like simplified lessons, on how to handle the disabled especially the mentally challenged children.
She also encourages parents to desist from presenting their frustrations to the children, saying letting out stress triggers same on the children and in the end no one wins. Children would then respond by showing temper tantrums, violence and straying.
“With the children staying at home due to government’s regulations parents need to know how to cool down their tempers,” said Mvubu. She said part of dealing with the children parents can take their children outside the house and walk them within the confines of the homestead while playing with them, being careful not to violate the COVID-19 regulations.
“We plead with parents to monitor their children during this time of COVID-19, being careful that the child does not stray and thus putting the whole family at panic mode,” said Mvubu, adding that straying would be a worse scenario with the mentally disable.
The director said her organization has introduced identification bracelets for children prone to straying with the parent’s mobile number, name of parent, emergency numbers like 999, 977 as well as the Autism Eswatini number. “These numbers can also be used in cases where there is no identification bracelet where attendees will assist in reconciling these children with their immediate families,” said Mvubu.
ECDMI Director condemns abuse of disabled
Former President of the Federation of Organizations of Disabled People Eswatini (FODSWA) and Director of Eswatini Comprehensive Disability Mainstream Initiation (ECDMI), Mandla Methula strongly criticised the abuse of disabled people in particular the mentally challenged. Methula spoke in reference to the matter of the mentally challenged child who was beaten by a grown man. The director said Emaswati have been made aware of the needs of the disabled through local and international policies but seem ignorant in terms of implementation. He said existing in Eswatini is a high notion of negativity against the disabled which leads to their abuse. “The matter of the child who was beaten by the grown man is a criminal offense and should be dealt with by the police,” said Methula.