Edith Moyo in her office at the Legal Resources Foundation in Mutare
” Some people are of the opinion that juvenile offenders are irredeemable, that there is no way back when a child commits a crime. ”
Edith Moyo is a projects lawyer at the Legal Resources Foundation in Mutare, an NGO providing free legal assistance to children in conflict with the law. Edith prepares court cases for the lawyers who she is understudying that represent the juveniles in court. She interviews the clients, performs research and prepares the briefs. Apart from that, she conducts legal education at workshops to inform people on their rights.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy educating people about their rights, especially women and children. There is a need for people to know their rights and to assist children, especially. The ordinary man or woman sometimes presumes that it is ok for one to suffer from abuse at home (Gender Based Violence). They accept it as normal or part of our culture and do not know that they have rights.
As a mother, children’s rights are of utmost importance to me. When I help someone else’s child, I fully understand their plight and the fact that children are under a lot of negative influence in today’s world. Some people are of the opinion that juvenile offenders are irredeemable, that there is no way back when a child commits a crime. In Zimbabwe these children are referred to as “nhinhi”, delinquent children that are indifferent to any kind of discipline.
If you work with children, your whole perception of children changes. You can show them love. I feel they can change with the proper psychosocial support. One juvenile I interviewed, said to me: “You are talking to me nicely. I went to the police, they were not nice to me and all the other people were not nice either. I came here and you were nice, so thank you.” He opened up and told me his story. They sometimes just need someone who is willing to listen to them and opens up to them. Children can indeed change with the right guidance and attention.”
What is needed in Zimbabwe to guarantee access to justice for all children?
I think we need training of other lawyers and education for the parents of the children. Parents start to neglect the child because of their propensity to commit crimes. We have to educate parents not to neglect their children if they commit crimes. It will only make them commit more crimes and make them habitual offenders.