FEATURE: Fight to curb drug abuse continues

Sithembiso Mdlanzi and W/O Muzi Maphumulo urge people to stay away from drugs.

HIGHWAY Mail journalist, Sanelisiwe Tsinde, speaks to the police and SANCA regarding drug abuse among school children.

Drug addiction is a serious concern among communities as drug abuse often leads to crime.

Pinetown Cluster communications officer and crime prevention officer, W/O Muzi Maphumulo, who drives drug awareness campaigns in schools, said drugs are becoming a big problem and more drug implements have been discovered.

“This confirms that drugs are being used in schools which is the reason we are back in force with awareness initiatives to warn children about drug abuse and to inform them there are consequences if they are found in possession of drugs.”

 

What is drug abuse?
Sithembiso Mdlanzi from the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA) who works with police in these awareness projects said there is no cure for drug addiction, only treatment.

“The cure is to stay away from drugs. Drugs are any chemical substances that can be legal or illegal which changes the way your brain or your body functions.”

He said there are different drugs besides whoonga such as alcohol, medication, ecstacy and dagga. “The problem with drug abuse is that some of these substances are legal, but as soon as a person takes them for the wrong reasons, takes incorrect doses and at wrong times, then it turns to drug abuse.

ALSO READ: Primary school learners found with weapons, drugs, alcohol

 

How does the law work in schools?
W/O Maphumulo said as their job is to enforce the law, a learner who is found in possession of drugs will be arrested. “During these awareness campaigns, we also warn them that they will be arrested if they found with drugs or for any crime for that matter.

“Even if they are released on a warning or pay the fine, the reality is that they will have a criminal record hanging over them. They can lose their future due to drugs which is the reason they should just stay away from them.

A learner suspected to be selling drugs was found with dagga and money in one of the schools.

Maphumulo warns young people that taking drugs lead to consequences that can jeopardise their future.  “Imagine not getting a job because you have a criminal record, not serving a sentence or spending the night in jail does not mean you got away easily as your case will be on the records,” he said.

 

Signs that parents should look for?
Mdlanzi and Maphumulo pleaded with parents to check their children’s bags and speak to them.

“Children could be using drugs due to peer pressure while some learners are being used by older people to sell drugs in schools.We know that there are people using school children to do their dirty work and we are going to arrest them,” said Maphumulo. Mdlanzi said parents should be observant and notice behaviour changes in their children.

“Signs to look out for include sleeping a lot, change of appetite, hygiene change, deteriorating school work standards, being rude and loss of money. “When they notice these changes, parents should intervene and can contact SANCA, Social Development or any other registered organisation for help.

However, some of these symptoms surface not because a child is using drugs, but it might be because he/she is being bullied in school which is why it’s important to talk to your children.

ALSO READ: Man found with drugs arrested in Pinetown

 

What are popular drugs in schools?

According to Mdlanzi, dagga is the most popular and problematic drug in schools.

“Cough mixture known as ‘lean’ is also a problem followed by e-cigarettes.  As much as e-cigarettes do not have nicotine, it has the same dangers that you get from normal cigarettes.

“Children should stay away from drugs, they destroy our youth. Some drugs affect memory and concentration which then results in children’s poor performance at schools,” he said.

Mdlanzi also warned parents to not give children access to their medical aids as they use them to buy medication which they then misuse and abuse.

E-cigarettes have become popular in schools.

People needing help with drug abuse can contact SANCA on 031 201 2241 or visit their office at 185 Vause Road, Musgrave.

The community is also urged to contact police on 0860 10111 to report people who are selling drugs.

 

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  AUTHOR
Sanelisiwe Tsinde
Journalist/Photographer

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