Umbilo Business Forum members Ian Campbell-Gillies and Sikho Msomi flanked by Sizwe Ndlovu, Vusi Buthelezi, Lungisani Madondo, Sphephelo Mfeka and Sibusiso Maphumulo. They are trying to convert an old electrical sub-station into a community rehabilitation project to assist drug addicts in Umbilo. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
Umbilo Business Forum members Ian Campbell-Gillies and Sikho Msomi flanked by Sizwe Ndlovu, Vusi Buthelezi, Lungisani Madondo, Sphephelo Mfeka and Sibusiso Maphumulo. They are trying to convert an old electrical sub-station into a community rehabilitation project to assist drug addicts in Umbilo. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
Umbilo Business Forum members Ian Campbell-Gillies and Sikho Msomi flanked by Sizwe Ndlovu, Vusi Buthelezi, Lungisani Madondo, Sphephelo Mfeka and Sibusiso Maphumulo. They are trying to convert an old electrical sub-station into a community rehabilitation project to assist drug addicts in Umbilo. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
Umbilo Business Forum members Ian Campbell-Gillies and Sikho Msomi flanked by Sizwe Ndlovu, Vusi Buthelezi, Lungisani Madondo, Sphephelo Mfeka and Sibusiso Maphumulo. They are trying to convert an old electrical sub-station into a community rehabilitation project to assist drug addicts in Umbilo. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
The area known as Whoonga Park. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
The area known as Whoonga Park. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)
Durban - The Umbilo Business Forum (UBF) is fighting the heroin scourge in the community by getting whoonga addicts to clean up a decommissioned electrical sub-station.

The project has begun with five whoonga addicts, who are in the process of going through a drug rehabilitation programme.

The growing drug problem in Umbilo - which has seen scores of whoonga addicts setting up home alongside a nearby railway line - has forced storage solutions company XtraSpace to adopt the municipal-owned land on Khuzimpi Shezi (Williams) Road where the sub-station is situated.

The sub-station is littered with dirt and human faeces.

The Daily News witnessed addicts, including a group of young girls, taking drugs there.

Colleen Mansour, CEO of XtraSpace Self Storage, said they occupied two buildings adjacent to the sub-station.

“We have been here for three years and have invested money in developing our properties. A new fence is going up. We will clean up the premises. The safety of our staff and customers is very important. We can’t have a derelict property bringing down the area,” she said.

UBF spokesperson Ian Campbell-Gillies said the drug problem prevented businesses from developing anything in the area because of rampant theft and burglaries.

“We fear if there is a mass exodus of businesses here the area could deteriorate rapidly. We want to include a satellite police station and a base where these addicts can be helped. We will offer them jobs and address their sanitation problem.

“We have also arranged for them to attend a course with the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa,” Campbell-Gillies said.

eThekwini ward councillor Mpumelelo Zuma said they had been given the go-ahead.

“Our aim is to keep the area clean and safe. XtraSpace have agreed to fund the fencing, which was damaged in the October floods,” Zuma said.

The UBF hoped that each homeless person could be documented, have CVs made up for them and be included on a job-seeker database.

“We need the buy-in from the eThekwini Municipality. The UBF rate base is R7million a month. We want some of this money put back into the area. We want to have a say on how it is spent,” Campbell-Gillies said.

Sibusiso Maphumulo, one of the recovering addicts, said they were taunted by other addicts walking by, but they brushed it off. He said for them it was a new beginning. Maphumulo said they all came from broken homes where domestic violence was rife. This caused them to find solace with street kids and later they all became addicted to drugs.

Campbell-Gillies said the building was structurally sound and the interior could be transformed.

eThekwini municipality spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said: “They were granted a permit to adopt the area and utilise it conditionally. A lease agreement was not signed and if the city needs the property, notice will be given to the Umbilo Business Forum and XtraSpace. The city is not aware of plans to utilise the area as a training facility for drug addicts.”

Daily News