File picture: Paballo Thekiso/ANA

Mbombela - A father from Nyibe near Ermelo in Mpumalanga is desperate to find help for his 13-year-old drug addict son, fearing that if left unchecked he is facing certain death.

“I am pleading with Msukaligwa local municipality, social development or any department to assist me by taking my 13-year-old son," the father said. "He is in my care but he needs to be placed in rehab before he ends up dying from substance abuse or gets arrested,” said the anxious father, who cannot be named in order to protect the identity of the child.

The boy started using drugs when he was eight years old. By age 10 he had dropped out of school. And since then, for the past three years, he has spent his days begging on the streets in order to buy drugs for himself and his grandmother who is also an addict.

“My son drinks a lot of alcohol and smokes dagga, nyaope and sniffs glue. All my efforts to help him stop using these substances have failed," the father said. "I think it’s because he spends most of his time with his grandmother who is also a drug addict. Talking to my mother about my son’s addiction is really a waste because she is gaining a lot from my son’s addiction. Basically my son supports her addiction.”

He has another two sons – a 12-year-old who stays with him and a 14-year-old who is in a boys’ home in Mbombela. The 13-year-old was supposed to also be taken into care, but ran away from authorities.

“I am determined to see my son stop using drugs because I can no longer watch him killing himself and destroying his future. This constant living in fear and worry for my son’s safety is too much, even though my son always comes home at night,” the father said.

“I can see in his eyes that he has given up in life. But as a parent, I will never give up on him and that’s why I am pleading for assistance.”

Nyaope is deadly concoction of cheap heroin and dagga (cannabis) mixed with other solvents and at times even anti-retrovirals and which has taken off in South Africa in recent years.

The 13-year-old said: "I am constantly reminded of my late mother’s mistakes and that she didn’t want me. That’s why she forgot me in a shebeen toilet when I was a baby. I know I am hurting my father and younger brother but I really don’t know how stop."

Pearl Ntuli from Department of Social Development said: “Last year we tried assist the family by removing the child from his home. But he ran away on the day of the pick-up. We will definitely try once again because his current situation is very bad and if nothing is done the boy will end up in jail.” 

According to Dumisani Masilela from the Sijulile Creative Group, “This is not the matter of having more or less rehabilitation centres but the problem is that most of these centres are far from most communities, especial in rural communities. 

"In most cases that I dealt with drugs users are addicted to (dagga, glue, alcohol and nyaope), most are using because they are trying to escape from pain or losses in their lives. As their reason may be different, they put these dangerous chemicals inside their bodies without knowing the harm it can do."

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