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Drugs: behind crime and social meltdown in South Africa
Drugs: behind crime and social meltdown in South Africa
Submitted by Administrator on Mon, 23/07/2007 - 07:56.
Guest Letter by Helen Zille - Leader of the Democratic Alliance
As we are currently beset by a host of pressing national crises – collapse and wholesale population flight in Zimbabwe, spiralling violent crime, child abuse and flaring vigilantism across the country – you may wonder why I choose this week to talk about drugs.
The reason is simply, drug abuse lies at the heart of much of the criminality that the country is currently experiencing. According to SAPS crime stats released earlier this month, 80 percent of crimes are directly linked to substance abuse. Even more worryingly, at least two thirds of all contact crime cases (such as murder and rape) are strongly linked to specific social behaviour patterns that involve alcohol and other substance abuse.
Drug usage also fundamentally undermines our vision of the open, opportunity society, as it reduces the autonomy of the individual. There is no capacity for choice, access to opportunity is destroyed and – ultimately – hope is undermined.
There is also a direct link between substance abuse and the assault, abduction and murder of children countrywide. Earlier this month outside Cape Town, eight-year old Candice Kasper went missing from her home after being plied with drink by adults, including her mother, in their Kraaifontein home. Candice was found by a passing stranger who fortunately took her to a place of safety. However, many other children are not so lucky.
Kraaifontein community workers say their area is crammed with households in similarly "horrible" circumstances to the Kasper’s home. Children are reportedly living alone – smoking “tik” or crystal meth all day – and girls as young as 14 years old are suffering miscarriages.
Meanwhile, the ineffectual response of the state and security agencies is triggering a new form of vigilantism – mass local action against perceived dealers. Last month, almost a thousand residents of Mitchell’s Plain, the populous working-class suburb south of Cape Town, stormed the homes and vehicles of alleged drug dealers in their community.
While the violent nature of the protests has rightly been condemned, they did succeed in highlighting the devastating effect of drugs on our communities and galvanising police into much-needed action.
Their efforts are none too soon. Drug-related crimes are at an all-time high nationwide. According to the SAPS, there were almost 105 000 drug-related crimes in the past year – an increase of nearly 10% over such crimes in the past two years.
While the increase could be seen as a positive indication of greater policing of drug- related crimes, it nevertheless points to a massive drug problem gripping the nation.
Most crime-related instances are due to use of crystal methamphetamine – commonly known as “tik”, after the popping sound the crystal makes when lit – which is increasingly popular amongst gang members.
Having created havoc in the Western Cape, this drug is now spreading to other provinces like the Eastern Cape and Gauteng. Tik makes the user feel elated but paranoid and delusional, and removes sexual inhibitions while fuelling aggression. This latest narcotic is relatively easy to manufacture, affordable to the poor – and powerfully addictive.
The arrival in South Africa in the last few years of tik has given a devastating fillip to the darkening trend of drug abuse. It is cutting a swathe through poorer neighbourhoods nationwide and supplanting other cheap fixes, breaking up family life and fuelling lawlessness amongst communities struggling to recover from the deprivations of the apartheid years.
In the Western Cape, gang members have found an innovative way of funding tik production. They illegally trade poached perlemoen for ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine – the ingredients used to make tik – smuggled in by the Chinese triads who have a virtual monopoly on these chemicals. This makes the tik trade hard to police as no cash changes hands.
Yet tik is only the most glaring of the narcotic substances which are tearing at our social fabric. Drug abuse has become prevalent among teenagers in communities rich and poor. Cross addiction – the use of a number of different kinds of drugs simultaneously – is rife. Drug dealers have found “a new cash cow” in children, who get money from their parents or by prostituting themselves.
A shocking 122 out of every 1000 Grade 1 pupils in the Northern Cape town of De Aar have foetal alcohol syndrome - the highest incidence of the syndrome in one population anywhere in the world. This statistic underscores the fact that alcohol abuse is a significant public health problem in South Africa.
The signs of social breakdown through drug abuse are everywhere. In the last week, children and teachers returning to schools around the country after the mid-year vacation were greeted by vandalised classrooms, stripped of copper cable, taps, and even phone lines. Schools have been denuded of these materials by addicts desperate for quick money to feed their drug habit.
Yet education is more fundamentally undermined by drug abuse: in many classrooms, children are high on tik and other drugs, and are incapable of sitting still and concentrating on their lessons. Moreover, they are often violent and abusive, both to teachers and each other.
What action can be taken to redress the scourge of substance abuse? The DA has a number of clear and workable solutions. Firstly, we believe it is imperative that the state reclassify pseudo- ephedrine as a schedule 5 drug so that it is only available by prescription, thus making the manufacture of tik much more difficult.
Moreover, we support home-based rehabilitation and care centres for recovering drug abusers. 80-85% of tik addicts can be successfully treated as outpatients. The solution to rehabilitating addicts lies in family and community support, with government’s assistance, as the success rate of rehabilitation has been proven to increase when families get involved. The long waiting lists for existing rehabilitation centres further increase the need for these facilities.
We urge that the state increase funding to South Africa’s Central Drug Authority, who play a role in advising government on combating substance abuse. In 2005 government gave R400 000 to the CDA – a completely inadequate amount that must be tripled.
Part of the problem, as I have indicated, is the state’s ad hoc, ill-thought out response. Although a specialised drug unit, the South African Narcotics Bureau (SANAB), existed until recently within the SAPS, government decided to disband the unit in 2004 – thus fuelling drug-related crimes in the last few years.
Likewise, in 2004 government suddenly decided to halt Operation Neptune, a SAPS anti-poaching marine unit with a successful track record in curbing poaching. Since its closure, poaching has been on the rise. If we are to curb perlemoen poaching as a means towards the end of eradicating the tik trade, it is vital to kick-start this operation.
On the supply side, customs officials at all ports of entry must be more vigilant - and specifically trained - to verify tik-related chemicals being smuggled into the country.
We need to lobby for the re-establishment of specialised units immediately, and to insist that the security agencies beef up intelligence. This is a vital means of infiltrating and ultimately exposing the complex links between suppliers, dealers and users.
It is also vital that we take the war against tik and other drugs into schools by educating teachers and children on its dangers as graphically and forcefully as possible, and to increase school budgets for drug counselling.
Ultimately, fighting and overcoming the narcotics trade and its baleful effects on our people will require a concerted effort by not just the state and security agencies, but all South Africans affected by this plague.
Parents must be encouraged to take responsibility for their children, to look out for the signs of abuse and to act upon it without delay. More generally, we need mothers and fathers to make family life as attractive and inclusive as possible, so that the draw of drugs is weakened.
This is not merely a matter for civil society. That means all of us – as parents, siblings and children - are potentially drawn into the vicious circle. We must speak out and we must insist our public representatives carry our concern into the highest councils of the land. The time to act is now.
i never voted before but for the next allection i'm voting for the democratic alliance. the leader is a white women who is full of shit but i think she got what it takes to pull this country right.
Long wait for rehab 'killing' young tik addicts
Western Province gymnast Zainuniesa Pasquallie's tik addiction lost her the chance to get her national colours this year.
But thanks to an innovative pair of Cape Town city councillors who have opened their home to help boost scarce rehabilitation facilities for children like Zainuniesa, she has been "clean" for two months and intends to stay that way.
"I have got my Western Province colours for gymnastics every year since 2002 and I want to make sure I don't miss any more chances," says the softly spoken 14-year-old Valhalla Park teenager.
Zainuniesa was speaking during the launch in Valhalla Park yesterday of the Democratic Alliance's plan to fight tik, which includes asking the Medicines Control Council to reclassify pseudoephedrine, the active ingredient in tik manufacture, as a Schedule 5 drug.
"Currently, tik can be made in any kitchen, using over-the-counter medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, but reclassifying the drug will make manufacturing tik much more difficult," DA leader Tony Leon said outside the home of DA councillors Nas and Asa Abrahams, who have opened their door to young addicts needing care and rehabilitation.
Without any funding from any authorities, they have given a temporary home to 24 recovering addicts in the past five months, but Nas Abrahams has taken the message further, reaching hundreds of local children with his appeals against the highly addictive drug.
"Our communities need help. Children are dying because of the lack of resources," he says, pointing to the three to four-month waiting list for state rehabilitation facilities.
"The processes being followed are not suitable for our kids. We need a pre-admission treatment phase because children waiting for treatment spend the long months smoking tik."
They work closely with Communicare and the addicts they take in have close links with a social worker and attend school.
The couple has nine children, four of whom still live at home, but at any given time there are an additional six recovering addicts.
They stay an average eight to 10 weeks each, and the Abrahamses keep close contact with their parents or guardians.
Shahida Pasquallie is just one of the parents who owe a debt of gratitude to this generous couple. She believed Zainuniesa could be taking drugs when she turned from a reserved child into an extremely aggressive, risk-taking teenager, but it was Nas Abrahams who finally got her daughter to admit she was taking tik.
The Grade 9 pupil has been "clean" for two months and is determined to realise her dream not only of competing for South Africa, but also of becoming a lawyer.
The Abrahamses keep their doors open; if children want to run away, they can.
But mostly they stay.
Who can we point the finger at? Why can't the natives just have their own shit sometimes? Thanks.
Originally Posted by The Hound
Originally Posted by TSA
A deep story, when I read this I thought of Oprah Winfrey school, this also talks about a women running for president
Just think if your whole society is on drugs, women being raped, people lay dead in the streets.....
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Originally Posted by Emblem