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Johannesburg - More and more Gauteng schoolchildren are using drugs – with many starting as young as 12 and becoming hooked on hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.
It all starts with consumption at school. After a few years, the schoolchildren become peddlers.
This was revealed by provincial commissioner Mzwandile Petros on Wednesday after investigations into the drug industry showed that drug users are becoming younger and younger in Gauteng.
Petros, who was Western Cape commissioner before moving to Gauteng, said he always thought that Cape Town was the drug capital of South Africa, but was shocked how Gauteng was quickly catching up.
He was giving an overview of Gauteng crime statistics for 2011/2012 in Joburg on Wednesday.
“The Cape is the capital of consumption but the distribution and manufacturing is in Gauteng. We have a serious drug problem in Gauteng and it has now found its way into schools. Children are being recruited while they are still in school, and if we close the factories, we will be dealing with the crime.”
Petros said he and other officers recently met principals of schools from a certain cluster in Joburg, and what they heard were stories of hopelessness. He did not want to reveal the area as he did not want to the schools to be identifiable.
“They are helpless, and indicate that this is a problem not only for teachers and police, but the society too.
“The teachers said the pupils peddle drugs at school and also bring them from outside,” he said.
Petros said the police knew the modus operandi of the recruiters as well as the children who might be targets, but they were not willing to reveal this to the media as they don’t want the druglords to know that the police have information on this.
“In townships the children consume cheap drugs, but in the suburbs it is expensive drugs like cocaine,” he said.
Petros said more people were dying in shebeens than anywhere else because there were many illegal shebeens that didn’t have proper security.
He said the establishments didn’t have people who could tell patrons to leave the establishment if they had had enough.
“In a shebeen, people are being killed over trivial things. It could start with someone saying ‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ and, depending on the answer, you give, you might die. Others get accosted as they leave the shebeen and are robbed and killed. It is those incidents that contribute to the high murder statistics,” he said.