MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
THE reckless behaviour of some Lusaka teenagers who linger at Levy and Manda Hill shopping malls in large numbers during this festive period is now a matter of public concern.
The teenagers, some as young as 12 years old, often move in groups, especially on Saturdays and Sundays and can be seen drinking alcohol and partying at the malls.
In an apparent disguise of their intentions, most of them carry backpacks in which they are believed to hide indecent clothing, which they later wear once they get to the malls, and alcoholic drinks.
Investigations carried by the Sunday Mail have revealed that the situation is usually worse during the holidays.
Those who park their motor vehicles on the upper parking decks of the malls are left wondering whether management is aware of the childrenâ€™s activities or simply does not care.
Some of the common activities are alcohol abuse, smoking and open kissing.
Last Saturday and Sunday security guards had a stressful time trying to control swarms of children who had descended on Levy mall and wanted to clamber to the upper parking deck to have â€˜funâ€™.
A security guard at Manda Hill Shopping Mall, Gift Musonda, said management has ordered them not to allow the â€˜gatheringsâ€™ at the complex because they have become a public nuisance.
â€œIt is not like we allow them to come here with alcohol, they smuggle it here. They start gathering around 15:00 hours but the crowd has grown significantly now because of the holiday. Today we managed to contain the situation due to re-enforced security. So it is like they have migrated back,â€ he said.
Mr Musonda said security personnel are sometimes overwhelmed.
He said the children become a nuisance and a safety risk when they get drunk.
Reporters who visited the malls recently found unruly teenagers, most of who looked inebriated, gathered in numbers with security guards struggling to maintain order.
The teenagers, who were making noise demanding to be allowed entry into the shopping mall around 18:30 hours, caused commotion for the late afternoon shoppers as they refused to leave until they were allowed in.
When the security guard eventually allowed them to enter, they started running into the shops forcing owners to close down.
Another guard, Wilson Kasama, said the teenagers have on many occasions been caught smoking, drinking and engaging in immoral body contacts on the upper deck car park.
â€œWe have been finding used condoms on Sundays in both the lower and upper deck car parks. They also come with all kinds of beers usually with high alcoholic content. We do our best to contain the situation but itâ€™s difficult to keep checkingÂ on them all the time,â€ he said.
MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka