Namibia: Zambia Smashes Adoption Scam
Lusaka — The Zambian government has smashed a scam in which children under the age of 10 are adopted and flown out of Zambia without following proper procedures.
Community and Social Welfare Minister, Catherine Namugala said Benson Njovu, aged 10, Baby Joe Moses, eight months, and Terry Tembo, one year and eight months, have since been withdrawn from some American nationals because the adoption was not legally binding. Namugala said that unconfirmed reports indicated that over 17 children had already been adopted and taken out of the country without the consent of the government and her ministry was trying to establish people behind the scam.
Namugala, who paid a surprise visit to one of the orphanages, Samaritan Community, in Lusaka's Chilanga Township, said the government was determined to stop such illegal acts and protect citizens.
She emphasised that her ministry was not against the adoption of children but the manner in which it was done and appealed to those wishing to adopt children to follow the right procedure.
The minister said it was shocking that some orphanages were busy arranging the adoption of children at a fee disregarding the laws of the land.
She expressed disappointment that foster parents were insisting on adopting only children infected with HIV-AIDS.
Namugala said that the foster parents also claimed to have paid about US$3 650 to get the children and that they did not even have committal orders from the courts.
She said the government was interested in knowing the background of those who adopted children to prevent them from being mistreated.
She said the Faithful Charity Agency, whose Head office was in the US and was behind the adoption of children from Zambia under a David Sichinga, was illegal because it was not registered and had no mandate to act on behalf of the government.
She said orphanages, which were partners in taking care of orphaned children, should assist the government in protecting them instead of giving them away to people whose background was questionable.
She warned those in habit of adopting children illegally to be on the look-out as the law would soon visit them and that they should not complain of vicitimisation once caught.
The minister also said she was not too happy with the environment in which the children were being looked after and appealed to orphanages to work towards improving sanitary conditions.
But Samaritan Community Orphanage proprietor Bishop John Jere, where one orphan was adopted from, claimed that he was not aware there were plans to take the boy out of Zambia.
Bishop Jere, who was at pains to explain to the minister and her entourage, said he was a patriotic Zambian who would want to see that the law was applied and that at no time did he involve himself in such acts.
He further asked the minister to check with the American Embassy to track down those who could have been flown out of Zambia.