Gone too soon!

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

“I’m coming back; Mama”- these were the last words of 13-year-old Thembinkosi Silwane - the youngest victim of the Enyobeni Tavern tragedy - to his mother before going out that tragic night.

In a tent filled with emotional scenes, President Ramaphosa recounted the last moments of the 21 victims and what their families and friends had to say about them.

He told mourners gathered at the Scenery Park Sports Field in East London that the youngest victim attended Zwelemfundo Primary School.

“These are the lives we have lost. They are not just bodies and souls. Our nation has lost young people who wanted to become doctors, teachers, policemen and women, lawyers, actors, businesspeople, and entrepreneurs.

“They had hopes to become something in life. They planned to help and take care of their families. They wanted to serve their communities and serve their country,” the President said.

WATCH | Funeral service of of East Lond youths          

The President said that each and every one of the deceased children had beautiful dreams and a bright future ahead of them.

Reflecting on the tragedy that has befallen the nation, the President called on the metro and the Eastern Cape government to make good on their promises to develop more spaces and programmes for the young people of Scenery Park and other disadvantaged areas of the province.

President Ramaphosa said that young people should not be forced to hang on street corners, to visit taverns and to end up in dangerous places because they have nowhere else to hang out.

“We want to see our ward councillors lobbying for more activities, programmes, and facilities to be rolled out by provincial authorities in our communities, and meet with local businesses to get them on board with sponsorships and other means of support.

“Our country has extensive laws to address and combat substance and alcohol abuse. We are not short of laws. The problem lies in their implementation,” he said.

Mayors must appoint Local Drug Committees

President Ramaphosa called on all Mayors to appoint Local Drug Action Committees in every ward and to give them the necessary support from the municipality.

He said the committees must also deal with the issue of underage alcohol abuse.

“We are also mindful that alcohol is as addictive, as dangerous and as harmful as any drug. That is why underage alcohol consumption must be included in the architecture of the Local Drug Action Committees,” the President said.

He added that the Prevention of and Treatment of Substance Use Act calls for the establishment of Local Drug Action Committees in all municipalities.

These Committees have been recently launched in municipalities in the Free State, in Gauteng and in the Western Cape.

The President said that these Local Drug Action Committees are critical for bringing communities, organisations, business, educators and government together to devise strategies to combat substance abuse.

“The establishment of Local Drug Action Committees is being championed by the Central Drug Authority, that advises government on drug policies and strategies.

“I want to call on all Mayors to appoint Local Drug Action Committees in every ward and to give them the necessary support from the municipality,” the President said.

The President further called on the Eastern Cape government and all of provincial government to step up implementation of their provincial drug master plans, with a renewed focus on outreach and public awareness raising.

“We often hear from parents that they did not even know their children drink alcohol and abuse substances. We also know that young people often hide these activities from their parents.

“By helping to create greater awareness of the harmful effects of underage drinking, we will help our parents, caregivers, and educators spot the signs of alcohol and substance abuse and seek the necessary help,” he said.

WATCH | Full funeral service 

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