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At least two out of every 100 Durban University of Technology (DUT) students living in campus residences are engaged in prostitution to sustain their drug addictions.
And 15 percent of students are abusing drugs and alcohol, with females outdrinking their male counterparts. Almost 10 percent of students are also in “sugar daddy” relationships - dating older men - to sustain their drug habits.
These startling claims were made by DUT’s senior director of corporate affairs, Alan Khan.
He was speaking at the launch of the 2013 annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) at the university’s Ritson Road campus on Tuesday, and to the Daily News in a later interview.
The INCB is the independent monitoring body for the implementation of the United Nations’ international drug control conventions.
DUT, which provides accommodation to more than 4 000 of its 26 000 student population, derived its statistics from data collated by departments that deal with students. These include student support services, disciplinary tribunals and campus protection services, as well as from residential advisers and through health consultations.
Cannabis and alcohol were the most popular substances consumed by students who admitted usage, said Khan.
“The feedback we received is that many students have already engaged with drugs before they start their campus life. Of these, a substantial percentage trace their issues back to their childhood and the impact of their family life and teenage experience in relation to their current situation,” he said.
The location of one of DUT’s campuses near Warwick Junction - an area notorious for drugs - was a factor in students’ substance abuse, he said.
“Whilst the area has significant historical benefit, it does pose major concerns for our students and staff.”
Khan also alluded to this on the university’s website, saying: “We are not isolated from the impact of drug use in our society... As a community, we are equally concerned about the impact that drugs have on our students and on South Africans. DUT is part of the fabric of South Africa and, therefore, it was important for our university to partner with the INCB to create a platform for discussion and awareness.”
He said the university’s submissions indicated that female students were abusing alcohol more than males.
On the drugs problem, he said: “The university would work with police to combat the drugs scourge on campus and would create awareness about drugs and the challenges that students faced.” Khan said the university had experts to help students deal with addiction.
Members of DUT’s Student Representative Council (SRC) refused to comment as they were suspended last week for allegedly staging illegal protests.
But the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s SRC said it was aware of students selling their bodies to maintain their drug addictions. Its SRC president, Mthobisi Myende, said female students relied on old men - “sugar daddies” - to sustain their lifestyles.
“It all starts with the lack of money and others are just doing it for a luxurious living and want to look good like other students,” said Myende. Last year his council launched an awareness campaign, called “Operation Chase Away Sugar Daddies”. -