Report by: Shireen Lata
Street begging has become a common sight around the country.
It’s been found that some beggars are genuinely in need of assistance, while some beg under false pretenses.
This has seen the formation of a taskforce between the police and the social welfare ministry to curb street begging.
And while authorities are doing their bit, one legal consultant has highlighted the need for people to be aware of what the law says about begging.
Legal consultant – Ana Tuiketei says in Section three of the minor offenses act, begging in public places is illegal.
“A person that’s more than fourteen years old who’s actually begging on the street or asking people for the money or pestering people for money, if person if charged and proved guilty will be convicted to a maximum penalty of three months.”
Even charitable contributions of any nature, under any false pretense is an offense.
According to the Social Welfare Ministry, they’ve profiled some beggars and found they are mobile, and continue to change their location.
Director – Social Welfare – Rupeni Fatiaki says some of them are generational beggars while most of them are already assisted through social welfare assistance.
“Two ladies a couple of months ago, we took them, we said ok we will put you in the bus, they were from Nadi, so they said please allow us to changed, we allowed. They changed and came in good clothes and went back in the bus.”
The Ministry says the real intention behind begging needs to be determined and addressed properly, to curb street begging in Fiji.