An organisation that helps needy and “at-risk” children has condemned the actions of a Lusaka couple who abused their niece by burning her with hot objects, describing the act as inhuman and calling for stiff punishment.

Last week, police in Lusaka arrested an unidentified female Zambia Air Force (ZAF) Lieutenant for physically abusing her 11-year-old niece whom she had been keeping with her husband by burning her with hot water, spoons and other objects every time she did something wrong.

Commenting on the matter in an interview with News Diggers! after her organisation donated 15 mattresses, food stuffs, among other assorted items valued at K18,000 to David and Faith Orphanage in Lusaka’s Kamwala South area, Save Lives Foundation director Sphiwe Benansho called for stiff punishment of the ZAF officer and her husband.

“That was disheartening! And I think it is inhuman because I don’t think that child decided that she is going to wake up one day and become an orphan. For them to have taken up the responsibility to raise her and accept that they would keep her, it should have come from deep down their hearts and they should have done it in good faith. She’s a child and what they were doing to her is totally wrong! We can’t accept that as a nation. I was orphaned at a very tender age myself, so I understand what the young lady is going through. Yes, I didn’t go through abuse to such an extent because my family provided me with very the basic needs that a child deserves, but I can still feel for her…I think neighbours should also take up that responsibility to be on the lookout for orphans. Imagine if that child wasn’t in that circumstance where the neighbours had to see her running, she would have continued being brutally treated by that couple and this would eventually have led to her death or her disability,” Benasho said.

“So, for me, I am extremely sad and I am calling on the authorities to take this up in a serious manner. Things like that are happening in homes and should not be ignored. But then I think the perpetrators also need to go through some psychological counselling to be able to find out the reason why they started treating that girl like that because it’s inhuman and only someone with a questionable mental state can do that. If you ask me, it’s not normal. I don’t think you can treat a human being and a child that way. So, such kind of people should be used as an example to other people that are looking after orphans. I think stiff punishment should be imposed on them!”

Meanwhile, speaking earlier during the donation, Saturday afternoon, Save Lives Foundation founder Younus Essa told journalists that his organisation decided to spend the Easter period with the orphans because they were vulnerable and had no family to spend the moment with.

“We know that Easter is a time to celebrate with family, but when you look at these orphans, who are they going to eat with? Who are they going to enjoy with, who are their family? They don’t have any family. It is our social responsibility to help such people. The last time we came here, we saw that the children did not have mattresses or the ones that they had had finished. So, we have managed to bring them 15 mattresses. We have also brought food and a lot of other things, even toys to play with,” said Essa.

And speaking after receiving the items, David and Faith orphanage caretaker and co-founder Sikopo Mataa called on other well-wishers to extend a helping hand to orphans.

“On behalf of the children, we would like to thank Mr Essa who has been there for us and Save Lives Foundation for what they are doing. May the Lord Almighty bless them and may they continue with the good works that they are doing. I would also like to urge every person. It doesn’t have to be a million kwacha; it’s a little that counts. If you just help the needy with whatever little that you have, God always multiplies your finances. So, let’s think of helping these children for a better tomorrow,” said Mataa.