Fighting drugs with faith

GTF founding members Menziwa Biyela, left, with his mother Zodwa Biyela and brother Njabulo Biyela. Image: Supplied

GTF founding members Menziwa Biyela, left, with his mother Zodwa Biyela and brother Njabulo Biyela. Image: Supplied

Published Jan 7, 2024


Durban — Our Unsung Hero this week is a trio from the Mpumalanga township, Hammarsdale, who are using the power of spirituality to fight drug addiction.

Zodwa Biyela, 69, Menziwa Biyela and Njabulo Biyela, 37-year-old twins, are the founding members of the non-profit organisation God’s Tabernacle Foundation (GTF).

The organisation aims to empower young and old through spirituality in the fight against drug addiction, and to get their lives back on track.

Established in 2020, it was formally registered in 2021.

Menziwa says they were inspired to form the organisation after he and Njabulo managed to conquer their drug addiction.

Menziwa said he had an alcohol addiction while his brother was hooked on drugs.

“We were heavy addicts and did not go a single day without indulging in our destructive habits. This took a toll on our financial lives and physical appearance, and hindered our progress because our lives revolved around the drugs,” he said.

Menziwa said Njabulo decided to ditch his habit in February 2018 and became a churchgoer. He followed suit in September of the same year.

Going to church to seek refuge had been inspired by their strict, faith-based background.

“We come from a very religious family and our parents firmly believed in making God a part of everything we did, so we used that to guide us and inspire us to see the difference between right and wrong. We were able to overcome our addiction. We fasted and prayed tirelessly,” he said.

He said that with the help of their mother, they decided to formally host other addicts at the Biyela household and to make use of different faith-based methods. These included one-on-one counselling sessions, prayer, lunch sessions to establish the cause of the problem, and, in some instances, referral to a medical doctor.

He said many of the recovering addicts lived at his home permanently, while others temporarily relied on their kindness.

Menziwa said the organisation was self-funded with money from his salary, profits made from Njabulo’s tuck shop, and their mother’s pension. He said this posed a major challenge because they were unable to adequately meet all their commitments such as meals.

They were also in need of money to expand and move to bigger premises to help more people.

Menziwa, a staff nurse at one of the major hospitals in Durban, said: “We really believe that we were brought to where we are by God. We are encouraged by the results we are seeing and hope that God can … give us more strength to find bigger premises and additional resources to assist more people.”

Former whoonga addict Nkanyiso Nombela, 28, from Pietermaritzburg, said he had been drug-free for two years and attributed his sobriety to the organisation.

He said he found out about the NPO through a friend, who had been reformed after getting assistance from the Biyela family.

Nombela said he had now found a job as a landscaper at a hotel in Durban and was happier than ever.

“I am eternally grateful,” he said.

Sunday Tribune