Durban - KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Social Development Nonhlanhla Khoza said today that the fight against drug abuse required every member of society to play their role.
Speaking in Newcastle on International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking today, Khoza said communities were aware of the drug dealing taking place in their neighbourhoods.
“Residents know those who recruit children to be drug peddlers and they later become users. Therefore, as communities, we should not be quiet when such things happen. We should isolate all those destroying the future of our children,” she said.
She said she is particularly concerned about the violence in the Amajuba District, where gangsterism emanating from drug territorial wars are rife.
“We need different sectors to join forces as we are strengthening the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.”
MEC Khoza said her department chose to visit Madadeni and Osizweni to confront the resurgence of gangsterism.
“We need the communities to work closely with the police to end the reign of terror from marauding gangs known as ‘Last Warning’ and ‘Juveniles’. The two rival gangs, which consist of boys aged between 12 to 20 have been terrorising local residents for some time.
“The department and other stakeholders have managed to rescue some children from the belly of the gang and they are free from drugs,” she said.
She added that the department has since 2021 worked tirelessly to ensure that no children were associated with these groups.
“Although we still face challenges, it doesn’t mean we are folding arms, hence the appeal that parents and all individuals in the society must join forces with us. We also want the liquor authority and other regulatory bodies to play their role to ensure compliance and shutting down of all illegal alcohol retail outlets in our communities.
“It cannot be correct that we have children as young as 10 drinking alcohol. Being a drug user starts by allowing children to have access to alcohol and addiction grows,” she added.
Shockingly, the Department of Social Development was informed that children have access to drugs over the counters at local shops.
Khoza said that she would be engaging with police management to deal with a number of issues raised by the residents during the engagement.
The Department of Social Development said it has formed a Provincial Anti-Substance Abuse Forum, District Anti-Substance Forums and Local Drug Action Committees which operate across all municipalities.
MEC Khoza added that the forums and committees were expected to lead the fight against drug abuse while working hand-in-hand with non-profit and non-governmental organisations funded for such purposes.
“We are pleased that Santaco (South African National Taxi Council) also partnered with us because some of these drugs are transported with their vehicles from big cities to Newcastle. We are told that people go to taxi ranks to give commuters some parcels without knowing that they carry drugs and we want the taxi operators to be very wary of all these parcels.”