Eersterust youth say no to drugs

Friday, July 3, 2015

By More Matshediso

Pretoria - About 20 youngsters from Eersterust, east of Pretoria yesterday said they would give up drugs and accept help from the Department of Social Development to get their lives back on track.

The drug-addicted youngsters, including three girls, had sat close to the stage where Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini addressed hundreds of Gauteng residents gathered in a marquee at the Eersterust Soccer Stadium.

The department held the event to commemorate the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (IDDAIT) and also address the tik and nyaope problem in the area.

In an interaction with the Minister during her speech, the youngsters committed to help government help them to turn their lives around. Most of those who spoke admitted to smoking nyaope - a mixture of crystal meth, heroin and marijuana.

One of the youngsters said he started using nyaope when he was in Grade 11 in 2009 and he has since dropped out of school. He pleaded with the Minister to help get his life in order.

“My mother passed away while I was still in school, and I have two siblings younger than me. I used to take care of them, but now they only know they have a brother whom they never see … I have abandoned them and live in the streets. I want to go back and take care of them again,” he said.

Minister Dlamini said the department will take them to the best rehabilitation centres in the country, but urged them to commit to assisting the process and going back to their communities as better people.

She said drugs were also associated with human trafficking, which ultimately resulted in a South African youths being arrested in countries abroad as a drug mules.

Speaking to SAnews at the event, the Minister said she and other dignitaries embarked on a walkabout in the area before coming to the stadium.

The first issue the delegation picked up during the walkabout was that drugs were sold in the streets of Eersterust and community members knew where the drug traffickers lived.

She said community members complained that if they report the traffickers to the police, they would only be arrested and held for few days and be released again.

“What is more worrying for me is that you can pick up the covers of the drugs anywhere throughout the streets. Kids can pick these up and finish them up thinking it is okay to do so.

“It is not right. The children here also don’t show a lust for life. It seems as if parents are highly involved in drugs and don’t have time to take care of the kids.

She said the visit had been an anti-climax after attending a conference in Cape Town with child and youth care workers the day before.

“We saw very energetic children who grew up under the guardianship of youth care workers because they are orphans. Today, we come here and see children who stay with their parents but are not taken care of, it is very disappointing,” said the Minister.

She said moving forward, the community needed to work with the Local Drug Action Committee that links to the Central Drug Action Committee.

“All structures of government have to ensure that they implement their masterplans in dealing with this issue,” she said.

Minister Dlamini encouraged communities to speak out and report drug peddlers to the police. She said if the authorities do not act they should feel free to contact the Presidential Hotline, or write a letter to the President.

Eersterust Local Drug Action Committee Chairperson, Desiree Fischer, said there are approximately 15 000 substance abusers in the community.

“If this problem is not attended to, we could lose a whole generation of our children and witness a total collapse of our family system.

“We have developed a programme of action to ensure that we take efforts to save the lives of our vulnerable individuals and families,” she said.

Fischer said the City of Tshwane has granted permission for a portion of an old clinic in the area to be used to establish a community help centre in Eersterust.

Mbuyiselo Botha of Sonke Gender Justice called on men and fathers to play their role in fighting substance and alcohol abuse. He said the burden is always with mothers and women in general to take care of children and their issues.

“It is not only about paying maintenance for your children, but being present in your child’s life. Maintenance is not only about money, it is also about caring for your children,” said Botha. -