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A rock and a high place

The Star
In Soweto, there’s been a marked spike in the use of drugs by the youth over the last few years - mostly cat, rock cocaine and nyaope.

Teenagers have been dropping out of school because of the side-effects of these drugs, which have also led to a significant rash of mental health problems including schizophrenia and hallucinations.

Pre-1994, drugs like cat and rock cocaine were seen only as “white people’s” drugs and were not popular in black townships.

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A drug user breaks a bulbs as he prepares a smoking pipe.
JOB DONE: A drug user prepares a smoking pipe after a long day collecting scrap metal.
EVIL TRADE: Dealers make a killing from selling drugs.PROFIT MOTIVE: A dealer packaging crystal meth into small bags to sell on the street.
ROAD TO RUIN: Drug abuse among the youth is a concern.WHITE DEATH: A dealer packaging cat into small bags to sell on the street.
HARD CASH: Drug users recycle scrap metal to get money for drugs.


The more popular drugs during that time were weed and mandrax, which didn’t have such profound side-effects.

Things have escalated due to the introduction of these new drugs, leading to a spike in crime, as some addicts will steal and even murder for these drugs.

The lack of rehabilitation centres and empathy from the community within Soweto has allowed drug abuse to get out of control.

In these pictures, I was trying to document how easy it is to access these drugs, as well as the dire cost to the Soweto community.

Some of the photographs also depict how desperate drug seekers will steal metal and scrap to pawn at scrap dealers to pay for their fix.

My aim was to create an awareness of how serious this situation is and the knock-on effect it has on the future of our youth in the black township communities.

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