North West MEC for Social Development, Lazarus Mokgosi urged the community members and the stakeholders not to turn the provincial substance abuse dialogue into a “talk shop”. Mokgosi, who many see as a man of action, called on delegates at the provincial substance abuse dialogue to come up with implementable plans to uproot substance abuse in the communities across the province. A one day dialogue session with various stakeholders was held at the embassy hall in Mahikeng on Tuesday.
“Drug abuse is really killing our nation. Upon my appointment as executing authority, I interfaced with young people who struggle with substance abuse in the capital Mahikeng. My heart bled when I realise that majority of them are graduates from tertiary institutions who have decided to indulge in various substance because of unemployment and other personal problems. It is time we develop a programme to keep these young people busy by providing appropriate opportunities for them.
Mokgosi added that his department has budgeted an amount of R4.2 million to enable NPOs to provide substance abuse prevention services and aftercare to persons with substance use disorders.
Mokgosi committed his officials to establish Local Drug Action Committees in all local municipalities by October 2023. This is indeed our plan for this year, which will see these local committees coordinating and intensifiying substance abuse prevention programmes, which include Siyalulama Community Outreach Programme, Festive Season Campaign and Debates on Substance Abuse in some schools.
The Central Drug Authority (CDA) has thrown a challenge to the communities to establish what have they done in curbing substance abuse.
“This challenge is on the basis that families are the first frontier in avoiding societal problems that can be posed by substance abuse. Deputy chairperson of central drug authority,” Nomcebo Dlamini has pleaded to the communities to take a stand and be part of the solution. “We need to revisit similar strategies that we had while we were fighting for freedom. At national level, we develop policies that are brilliant and envied by other countries, but we fail at implementation stage. “It is local drug action committee that are the implementing agencies. We therefore appeal to all local authorities to establish firm committees that will implement our strategy.
Dlamini said substance abuse in her opinion is the third national pandemic after HIV and gender-based violence. “The sad part is substance abuse allows the other two to thrive. When we apply evidence-based solutions, we will definitely win the war against substance abuse, emphasised Dlamini.
Mahikeng executive mayor, Tshepiso Mphehlo appealed to the stakeholders to take substance abuse prevention programme to schools. “Healing the nation must be a concerted effort of all concerned. We must nip the abuse in the bud. Mahikeng is fully committed to see thisprogramme implemented across all our wards.”
Lawrence Sekhomba, ex-substance user, who has been sober since 2018 attributes the teachings at JB Marks Treatment centre for his resistance to relapse. “It started with smoking a hubbly bubbly, which was laced with nyaope in Brits. The 41-year old Mocoseng native said when he returned to Mahikeng he mixed nyaope with marijuana to maintain his habit. I appreciate my aunt who linked me with the social worker, when I got tired of my addictions. Sekhomba admits shyly but say his mental strength will see him through.
“My mother passed away in 2009 and my troubles started a year later, when I enrolled with Tshwane University of Technology”, remembers another survivor, Rebaone Morakile, 32 of Bethel outside Mahikeng. “I felt invisible with the inheritance and I joined wrong circle of friends. Like Sekhomba, nyaope was an underlying drug that got Morakile hooked. “My family got suspicious when I started asking them for money regularly. They sent me to rehabilitation but, I had not admitted my addiction. I went back to my old ways, hiding my addiction from 2012 until 2016.
In 2021 I went to JB Marks after my family sought assistance from social workers. I spent two months at the centre. I have regained my family trust. I even had a stint as an educational assistant at Kopanelo combined school.
Both gentlemen admit it is our rocky path ahead, but with the lessons gained at the rehabilitation centre, they will be able resist the temptations that might come their way. Currently the department of social development admits persons with substance use disorders at its JB Marks treatment at Witrand hospital in Potchefstroom.
For Enquiries: Call Departmental Spokesperson – Petrus Siko
Tel : 018 388 1426
Cell : 060 542 9383
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Issued by the Department of Social Development