Pretoria - "When I had money I would go to pubs alone and one fateful day I got intoxicated to a point where I was raped and my family did not believe me because I had lied to them too many times before.”
This is the story of recovering drug addict Suzan Ncala, a mother-of-three, who was among recovering addicts gathered on Tuesday at Mabopane Indoor Sports Centre for an anti-drug abuse day, hosted by the Department of Social Development.
Ncala said she lost everything during her drug-induced three-year phase.
She had been well-off after holding down a good job as an aviation officer. These were proud moments of her life, she said.
Her family had respected and looked up to her. She explained how her children had the best education, how she lived in luxury apartments in Joburg, changed hairstyles and was about to get married when drugs diverted all her attention.
The problem started when she received a promotion at work and had enough money to spend. Her then-boyfriend introduced her to drugs, she said, and they took over her life.
“Life was great until weed, ecstasy, cigarettes and alcohol took over my life. I started hating my family and friends, I became lazy to work and disrespected my boss.”
She neglected her children and became a totally different person and has been told by family that she used to beat her older daughter, who was at that point her only child.
She remembers smoking all day in the house with her boyfriend and twice she fell pregnant. Her mother had to take care of her children.
When she had her third child she went back home and had no support from her boyfriend. She started seeing other men to feed her addiction.
“I would leave my three-month-old daughter with my mother just to go and meet up with a man so that I could get money for a fix.”
She has been clean for six months now, through the intervention of her family.
Another former addict, Daniel Ntlatleng, acknowledged victimising his families. “I used to sell my grandmother’s electric appliances such as kettles to make money - but then demand to use the very kettle I had sold. I am grateful for my grandmother as she did not give up on me,” Ntlatleng added.
He has been clean for three years and he recalled how he had become knee-deep in drugs before his grandmother’s persistent intervention helped.
Kwaito legend Kabelo Mabalane, who has been clean for 14 years, spoke to the recovering addicts, saying he always knew he was one line away from relapsing.
“Even though on September 1 I’m going to be 15 years clean, I am never relaxed. You always need to be aware of the people, places and things that you surround yourself with,” said Mabalane.
Violet Moemise, mother of a recovering drug user, said it was painful to have a child who used drugs in a family. “I remember one day the police were looking for my son and he was on the roof hiding from them,” she said.
She urged communities to unite to help the youth beat drugs.