Province’s drug abuse escalates

RESIDENTS of Sinoville in Tshwane have declared zero tolerance against drugs in their community by organising an upcoming mass march. The organisers of the April 25 march, said drug abuse among children has been escalating at a rapid pace because no random drug tests have been conducted at public schools throughout Gauteng for the past two years. However, the Gauteng department of education denied these allegations.

“Drug tests are done when there are suspicions that there might be pupils who are taking drugs. Only last year, a 17-year-old pupil from Norkem Park who was found in possession of drugs was tested. The organisation is lying by saying no drug tests are done,” Gauteng’s education department spokesperson Steve Mabona said. The organisation said this happens because drug tests are no longer readily available to law enforcement authorities. Drug dealers and drug addicts know it’s difficult to combat the crime.

“The result is that only in the area where the Sinoville Crisis Centre (SCC) provides a free service to the community, has drug-related crime risen by 200% in the past month from nine to 32,” Colleen Strauss, CEO of the SCC said. “These statistics are not at all a true reflection as it only indicates the number of parents prepared to go and buy a drug test themselves for the testing to be done and not the parents who didn’t have the money and who didn’t return to SCC,” Strauss said.

The South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey found that 15% of pupils admitted to using over-thecounter drugs to get high. The results also showed 11.5% of pupils had tried at least one drug, such as heroin, mandrax, sugars (a mix of residual cocaine and heroin) or tik. The SCC assists victims with crisis intervention, practical and emotional assistance and trauma debriefing in the jurisdiction area of the Sinoville Police Station.

“The use of CAT, methcathinone also known as mephedrone, dagga and nyaope, also known as whoonga, a cocktail of dagga, heroin, antiretroviral drugs, rat poison and acid, is increasing among high school pupils in the SCC area. “Without random drug testing, it is difficult to identify users and assist them and their parents at an early stage. CAT is highly addictive but because high school pupils hide their addiction, it is often wrongfully diagnosed as depression or bipolar mood disorder without addressing the drug addiction,” Strauss said.

The board of directors of the SCC brought the problem to the attention of the office of the Gauteng MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi in August last year, pleading with him to intervene and assist at a grassroots level to obtain drug tests. “Although Lesufi’s office immediately responded and asked for the matter to receive urgent attention, nothing has been forthcoming. It would be wonderful if the suppliers of drug tests would come forward and donate tests to assist combating the increasing drug abuse trend. “The SCC pleads will with all stakeholders to come on board to combat drug abuse. Our children are our future,” Strauss said.