For The People

Young Addicts ‘On The Rise’ In Kimberley


KIMBERLEY – Parents be aware, be very aware. The abuse of illicit drugs by young teenagers is on the increase and the impact is menacing and rampant. “I have provided for my son, responding to his every need and yet he decided to take to the streets and mingle with adults that impelled him into dagga smoking. This is too dreadful, my son is only eight years old. I called Wanya Tsotsi after those men threatened to beat me up after I had confronted them. I want Wanya Tsotsi to deal with those men. I really need help to save my son. He is a very intelligent child, just look at his results of last year,” said *Matshidiso Modise with tears rolling down her face. Our investigation into illicit drug abuse by young teenagers in Kimberley, coincided with Modise’s call for help via a text message to civilian crime-busters Operation Wanya Tsotsi (OWT).

With questions put to OWT on this subject, Modise was willing to participate as a case study. “My brother, my son’s behaviour has changed. I have beaten him up although it is said we should desist from smacking our kids and I must be honest he still comes home reeking off dagga hence I am calling out for help” lamented the Donkerhoek in Galeshewe mother of three sons aged; two, eight and 13. When asked what the summation of OWT is in respect of its dealings with teenage addicts, the group’s Gopolang Plaatje explained its magnitude by likening it to “crisis proportions.” “We have dealt with cases of kids as young as 10 years. Some kids get the habit from parents who are users. The sad part to it is that kids have to rob and steal to get a fix for themselves and their parents. Our moral fibre is on a downward spiral. “Due to drugs and other social ills, kids end up in drugs and other social ills, kids end up in gangs and are used by dealers as ‘runners’ or peddlers, even forced into prostitution and human trafficking.

There are instances in areas such as Colville and Florianville where each street has a drug dealer.” A Homevale resident who wished to remain anonymous concurred with Plaatje on addicts being young teenagers of late. “In our area there is a vaal huis, known drug den where 12 year old girls get high on tik (methamphetamine). We all know the drug dens but we do not trust the police. The drug lords are feeding the entire law enforcement system hence we are afraid of being victimized. We keep seeing police vehicles at those houses and yet it keeps being business as usual. So what are we to do?” A group of boys at Galeshewe’s Hulana Park who looked much younger albeit claiming that their ages ranged from 17 to 22 years, were smoking a hookah pipe mix of what they called “spicey,” a hookah flavour blended with dagga, also acknowledged the widespread use gafifi (rock cocaine) and tik among younger users. Down the road at Tyala Street and Hulana Road intersection, self-confessed dagga user Sechaba Molefi of Mokgautsi Street said; “I have noted that school going youth who have the luxury of pocket money are the tik and cat (methathinone/cheap coke) users around our area. The parents are afraid to speak out whilst the drug user child keeps stealing everything that can be sold from the household. My Grootman it is easy to notice them due to their drastic behavioural change hence these young users call tik drasties.” Whilst Molefi prepared a poke of dagga, his friend Tumelo Maputla also of Mokgautsi Street added his own witty commentary; “Communities should not reject these young users but should instead provide a support system. We are in urgent need of drug rehabilitation centres for the poor and only government can help us. We are prepared to participate in anti-drug programmes and help our government.” The manager of newly established anti-drug non-governmental organisation, Northern Cape Rehabilitation Centre, Rehana Ramzan, said the out-patient facility largely deals with cases of tik and mandrax followed by dagga and glue sniffing. “Our youngest addiction case was that of a 14 year old as a user of tik. Our early intervention is highly successful but the situation is dire out there. There is no more time for parent and user denial, we are fighting a real monster and you got to spare a thought for the low-income households that are our focus point. The influx and abuse of drugs in Kimberley has now gripped all communities and all races. We are stretched in that we are now dealing with severe psychosis cases. “Parents come to the party only when users display social withdrawal and are stealing household goods, however, we do have West End parents who have been proactive in seeking assistance. Back in 2015 whilst I was a nurse, we had a situation of a stop and search with random drug testing being conducted on 70 learners at one of the high schools and only three were clean. Now, doesn’t that explain the current likely scenario?” questioned Ramzan. Specialist police, Hawks, spokesperson in the Northern Cape, Captain Philani Nkwalase said mechanisms are in place in protecting school going youth and the community at large. “We create awareness at schools and through community engagements, our operations include conducting regular disruptive searches where we raid places suspected to be involved in drug trade. This works as people give us information during campaigns and we investigate and then close them down.”

On the allegation that some SAPS members are involved in the proliferation of illicit drugs, Captain Nkwalase urged, “we encourage your source to come forward with that information, and will investigate without fear or favour as we have done with many of colleagues who have been found working against the law.” He added, “There are few incidents where we have acted on such criminality committed by police members.” Meanwhile, three Upington police officers were arrested alongside foreign nationals in an intelligence-driven clampdown on a drug syndicate last year March, will appear again in the local court this year. The charges include amongst others money laundering and racketeering. Drug manufacturing implements were also seized. In further proof of the widespread proliferation of drugs in the Northern Cape, the Hawks seized cocaine worth approximately R3.1 million from a car that had crashed on the N14 between Olifantshoek and Upington earlier this month. The driver of the vehicle Mohammed Wilson will make his second court appearance on June 29, 2018.

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