Partnership with Forensic Science Laboratory to help in fight against substance abuse

Thursday, June 22, 2023

The Department of Social Development says it is looking forward to working closely with the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory in the fight against substance abuse.  

This comes as the department’s social workers visited the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory in Pretoria on the second day of National Anti-Drug Awareness Week.

After working for many years practising as therapists and implementing the policy on alcohol and other drugs, the therapists were for the first time exposed and taught about the different drugs available on the market.

The purpose of the visit was to equip therapists with various knowledge to be able to assist families on how to identify drugs. The visit is also aimed at strengthening collaboration between departments to effectively fight the scourge of drugs in communities.

The department’s Chief Director: Substance Abuse and Social Crime Prevention Siza Magangoe said that a partnership with the science laboratory will assist the department in making a meaningful impact during engagements with communities.

She said sometimes drugs are found in the house and parents are unable to identify them due to lack of knowledge.
She called on South Africans to be careful not to discriminate against people and families who are affected by drugs.

“For an example, calling our children ‘nyaope boys’ is not assisting in the fight against drugs. We need to use better language too especially when we refer to children,” Magangoe said.

The Forensic Science Laboratory is responsible for conducting drug research, analysis, testing, and the destruction of drug samples after cases are concluded by the courts.

It also assists countries within the Southern African Development Communities (SADC) region with research, analysis and testing of drugs as some of these countries do not have capacity to do this work.  
During a presentation on the work of the laboratory, Colonel Tshepo Shole said the laboratory had a chemistry section that conducts different types of analysis, including, among others, drug analysis, poison investigation and liquor analysis.
Colonel Shole highlighted that the work of the laboratory is regulated by the South African Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Act 51/77, Drug Trafficking Act, 140/91 and Medicines and Related Substance Act 101/65.

The laboratory follows the ISO 17025 Quality Management System to ensure that it complies with international standards.
Between the years, 2003 and 2022, there has been a significant increase of drug analysis from 12 025 to 137 831 tests.

Colonel Shole said this showed that there was a serious challenge of drugs in the country.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the department hosted community dialogues in Toekomsrus, in the West Rand area as a continuation of the national anti-drug awareness week.

The dialogues, which also form part of youth month, did not only afford community members an opportunity to engage with the department about substance abuse but also to strengthen relations between both the department and the people.    

The National Anti-Drug Awareness Week is a build up to the Commemoration of the International Day against Drug abuse and Illicit Trafficking on 26 June 2023.

The department will commemorate the annual day under the theme: “People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention”.

Aligned with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Agency Network for Demand Reduction, Drug Control and Crime Prevention, this day aims to prioritise people's well-being and reduce stigma associated with drug abuse. –