Pretoria - It is not often that substance abuse addicts kick the habit and get back on the saddle towards a brighter future with some becoming successful politicians, businesspeople, teachers or even police officers.
These are some of the success stories coming from a Soshanguve NPO dedicated to mop up substance abusers from the streets in and around Pretoria.
The Clean Up Hub, set up six years ago by Reikhutsitse Malala, has a programme to take abusers off the streets and give them hope of a better future.
After reading a story of a young nyaope abuser who wanted to quit in Pretoria News two weeks ago, Malala reached out to the publication to trace the addict, who lives on the streets.
“Every day we recruit new users so we can take them to rehab,” said Malala. “I am part of an organisation I founded in 2017 called Clean Up Hub.”
He said among their success stories was an abuser who was now a councillor for the EFF in Klipgat, while another was a successful contractor.
“Both were taken on a joint activation in 2017 whereby 40 users were admitted in one go. We have had other users who are now teachers and one is a police officer,” he said.
Malala, who is also known as Will Power after his middle name Edwill, also experimented with drugs in high school, but has now dedicated himself to fixing the wrongs he came across.
“The name Will Power influenced me positively because it means I can … and I will.
“I needed some sort of motivation growing up in Soshanguve because it’s a rough neighbourhood, so I watched a lot of superhero movies like Zorro and Superman. Which also influenced me and gave me a critical edge and taste on what it feels like to save people.
“So my friends and I in high school got sick and tired of waiting for help while the system was failing us. I went on a crusade to champion users by finding rehabilitation for them as I also experimented with drugs in high school with the very same friends but I was rescued by my father and mother before I got really hooked,” he said.
Today a marketing manager at Hollywoodbets, social media activist and publicist, he organises annual walks from Johannesburg to Soshanguve to raise awareness of drug abuse.
“We have taken 210 addicts to rehab and counting. We help addicts with detox programmes at three trusted rehabilitation centres. Then we assist with skills development.”
He said the main challenge was finances to get a skills centre to bolster their attempts to clean up the streets.
“This year we will be walking from October 21 to 22 to raise funds for a skills centre and awareness of crystal meth abuse.
“We want people to support us for our walk in October and for corporates to join our plight for raising awareness and to build a skills centre. We also want our municipality of Tshwane to be hands on the ground by working with us,” he said.
Malala conceded that there were many who relapsed.
He said this was due to lack of support and would be solved by a skills development centre where they “can kill time instead of idling on the streets or returning to the same drug environment.”
“Six weeks is not enough for hardened users who have been smoking for years … Thus we need a skills centre and halfway house,” he said.
According to statistics, new and different drugs hit the streets every day causing more relapses and craving for stronger drugs like crystal meth, better known as Cat.
“Crystal meth is a ticking time bomb, like on the news we recently saw someone who hacked his mom to death. We are experiencing more and more cases like this one, which are alarming as it has spilled over to high schools,” Malala concluded.