Zikalala launches anti-drug abuse forum
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DURBAN - The Provincial Anti-Substance Abuse Forum was launched on Thursday and is expected to play a critical role in the fight against drug dealing in communities and in the rehabilitation of those who suffer from substance abuse across the province.
At the launch, held at The Station Urban Events Space, with the theme “Working Together to Build Caring and Sustainable Communities for All”, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala said substance abuse had proliferated since the birth of democracy in 1994.
South Africa ranks in the top 20 for alcohol consumption per capita worldwide and the highest in Africa. Statistics also indicate that alcohol abuse accounts for 58% of the deaths on South African roads.
Zikalala said the rapid increase in the demand of drugs in the country, which caused an increase in drug manufacturing, posed a hazard to national security. He said “whoonga” and “incika” (where cooldrink is mixed with cough syrup containing codeine) were the most popular drugs in the province.
“South Africa has become a consumer, producer and transit country for drugs,” said Zikalala.
He said alcohol abuse was one of the biggest killers in the country and province, costing SA billions a year, adding that there was a liquor outlet for every 190 people in the country.
“Many poor people we see on our streets are living a life of begging, some not just to get food, but to get a fix. Bridges have become homes for citizens who have given their lives to substance abuse. Drug abuse knows no gender, class, race, ethnicity or creed. All communities suffer from it.
“This substance abuse destroys lives and communities, undermines sustainable human development and leads to crime.”
He said it was now recognised that a punitive approach alone had not been successful in tackling drug abuse.
“With the launch of this forum, we place our hopes that it will succeed in arresting the challenge and in lessening its impact on individuals and societies. Drugs and substance abuse is regarded as the mother of all social ills. The forum will also work with the government to render various services with regard to awareness and prevention programmes to individuals and schools.”
Social Development MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza said they were certain they would be able to deal with the escalating problem of drug abuse in communities.
“Fighting the proliferation of drugs should be intertwined with the resolve to fight socio-economic factors such as poverty, inequality and unemployment. In July police seized cocaine worth R500 million, disguised as truck parts at Durban harbour.
“A massive amount of cocaine was found in a shipping container carrying truck parts destined for a truck sales company. We have seen police intercepting massive drug syndicates in areas like Chatsworth, Isipingo, Phoenix and the affluent Highway areas that include Kloof and Hillcrest.”
Chairperson of the Central Drug Authority, Nandi Mabuyakhulu-Khoza, who presented the National Drug Master Plan, said the vision of the plan was to free South Africans from substance abuse.
“The misuse of alcohol has a complicated history of racial inequities in access to liquor and in the regulation of the conditions in which it is consumed. This has had a negative impact on the fabric of many communities that is still felt today,” said Mabuyakhulu-Khoza.