Residents in Moretele local municipality in the North West are optimistic about efforts to address drug abuse and the issues associated with it. This follows the launch of the  Moretele local drug action committee.  Municipalities around the country have adopted local drug action committees as part of the national drug master plan to provide context-specific solutions to the problem.   

Mabu Chauke , 52, recently lost her 33-year-old son to substance abuse. He had been using drugs for over 15 years. She hopes the local drug action committee will help prevent other mothers from going through what she is facing. 

“Having a child in our community is a risk. I never thought that I would have a child that is drug addicted to the point that he leaves home and stays in the streets. We live with drug dealers in our community and they are slowly killing our children,” she says. 

“My son came home after four years of staying in the streets. Before he came back, I would fetch him and he would always go back –  until I stopped. He died two days after coming back home. I guess his body could not take it anymore.”

No more hope

But other community members are more sceptical. Aggy Gwebu, 24,  says that she doesn’t believe this committee will make a difference.

“The police know these drug dealers and they are even friends with them. They come and arrest them and the next day they are out. We are even afraid of standing up to these people. When you go to the local tuck shops there are nyaope boys everywhere,” she says. 

Gwebu says the situation is threatening to drive her out of her community.  She is strongly thinking about relocating because it feels like “most of the young men in our community are drug users. They don’t bathe, and they are stealing. They are working minor jobs to maintain their addiction.”

Sign of bigger issues 

Gibson Manick Kistan runs Tranquillity Clinic, a private drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic in Johannesburg.  He explains to Health-e that drug and substance abuse are just the surface. People are facing challenges in their daily lives and use substances to help them cope. Before opening the clinic, he was dealing with his own addiction. 

Gabaratanelwe Guiker, a social worker with the Department of Social Development told Health-e News that many schools in the area have problems with drug use.  He says the department has search units that will do a sweep,  arrest the drug dealers and visit families that have been affected to check what is the main cause of  the drug use. 

“There are plans in the pipeline to build rehab centres where they are needed. But first we want to put the committee to work and wait to see the results.”-Health-e News