A housewife stole toys worth RM560 for her children and was sentenced to 10 days’ jail and fined RM2,000 by a magistrate’s court.
There is a need for the Welfare Department to look into cases like this and ensure that parents do not resort to stealing for the sake of the children.
The Star reported that Rozita Mohamad Nor, 29, was charged with stealing RM560 worth of goods including a packet of batteries, a toy car, a wireless charger, a remote-controlled helicopter and a toy car battery on Sept 4 at 10.45pm at Tesco Tanjung Pinang.
“The mother of four admitted to the offence under Section 380 of the Penal Code which carries a maximum jail term of 10 years and a fine.
“Magistrate L. Umma Devi advised her not to repeat the offence as she should set a good example for her children.”
As much as critics will say that she should not have stolen for toys are not needs and are materialistic wants, one must understand that a mother will do anything for a child, even to the extent of going to jail, only to keep a child happy. As much as critics also may say that she must know what is wrong and what is right, at that point of time, the heart overtakes the brains and nothing is priority except to satisfy the child.
One does not know if Rozita is a single mother, who is caring for her children on her own. One also does not know if she has any support from anyone financially to care for her children. However, one does know that Rozita is unemployed and is a housewife. What about her husband, no one knows, for we can only judge from the facts as reported.
In Malaysia, the support for poor single mothers or fathers are lacking indeed, with many resort to doing more than one job, more so the uneducated ones, just to make ends meet. There is also very poor social service follow ups or check ups by the authorities on families living on welfare or in need of welfare.
More recently, we had the case of Pirdaus Azizan who stole from Tesco, Bukit Mertajam to feed his hungry children, but his story ended happily whent he manager felt pity and offered him a job instead. We also had a single mother who stole ingredients to make rendang in Negeri Sembilan.
Rozita was caught and given to the authorities, for not everyone can be offered jobs anyway. The fine by the magistate may be seen as excessive for one who had to steal because she did not have any money to buy, and it is perhaps part of the law and the judge can only give that much of a minimum.
However, it would have been better had the fine been swapped with doing public service, for the shame of doing public service is more than just borrowing money from anyone to pay the fine. Jailing a parent who steals would only serve to punish the children more, on top of the shame of having a parent now branded as a thief.
The Welfare Department has to step up and be more vigilant in seeing that there is a more stringent system to ensure husbands or fathers pay the alimony (nafkah) due to the children and mother, for thousands around the country today, especially the Muslim single mothers, suffer due to the inaction (and inability)of the Syariah Courts in making sure that nafkah is paid.
There should also be more mental help to poor parents who have no one to open up to.
Many just give up wasting their time and money going up and down the courts to get nafkah from their husbands or former spouses.
Rozita’s case is just one of many which have come to be highlighted, but in truth, there are many, and all mothers will sympathise with her and understand why she did what she did.
One can only hope the authorities in charge will look into Rozita’s case and many others in her similar dire circumstances to stop mothers from being thieves only because they are mothers.