Tshwane steps up fight against drugs

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Karabo Ngoepe

JOHANNESBURG- Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga has waged a war on drugs in the city with the launch of the Community Orientated Substance Use Programme (Cosup).

Msimanga said his administration was deeply concerned about the scourge of drugs on communities, leaving people unproductive, pushing them further into poverty, or driving them deeper into drug-related crime and other illicit activities.

“When we took office we did so knowing that the City needed a comprehensive focus and response to the drug problem. As the capital city, Tshwane has grown by 35% in the last 10 years and that has come with great challenges, particularly drugs,” he said.

Msimanga said with that in mind, they established the TMPD Anti-Drug Unit with the sole purpose of fighting and eliminating drug abuse in the communities of Tshwane. He said members of the unit were given additional training and equipment to take the battle to the next level.

“I’m happy to say that across the city, drug lords and peddlers are now feeling the heat. However, the war on drugs will not be won based on law enforcement alone but has to include social interventions to prevent drug abuse while providing a safe haven for those who suffer the consequences of drugs and substance abuse. One of the priority areas of the TMPD’s social crime prevention initiatives is drug awareness campaigns in schools and institutions within Tshwane, to ensure that our learners, as well as communities, are informed about the dangers of drugs, while we encourage them to come forward with information about drug suppliers or drug lords,” he said.

Msimanga said Cosup was born from the realisation that Rehab Centres in the city and province were not achieving long-term sustainable results. He said during the past year, they had to face the fact that the treatment results of most Rehab Centres in the City and Gauteng are insufficient and have a rehabilitation rate of lower than 10%.

“This means that 90% of addicts relapse soon after they have left the 21-day rehabilitation programmes offered by such centres – at a considerable cost. The City’s Health Department is currently funding the Department of Home Medicine at the University of Pretoria, who developed the evidence-based Community Oriented Substance Use Program (COSUP). To date, at least 2364 people were enrolled in the COSUP programme and more than 12000 follow-up visits were conducted for intensive interventions. This excludes people reached through awareness and education campaigns. It is estimated that we have reached more than 40000 people through outreach and education,” he said.

The programme not only assists addicts to overcome their addiction but also helps them to face the social and psychological challenges that contributed to their addiction. The ultimate goal of the City’s involvement with problematic substance abusers is not only to assist them to quit but to prepare them to find a job and live a substance abuse-free way of life in their community, Msimanga said.

“We know that so many substance abusers are bright young people, with massive potential, and we need to show them the way to provide positive contributions to the economy and development of our city. Currently, the city operates seven Community Oriented Substance Use Programme sites in Mamelodi, Soshanguve, Hatfield, Daspoort, Atteridgeville, Eesterust and Sunnyside. A new site will be opened shortly in Olievenhoutbosch and preparations are being made for a site at the Mabopane Station, near the notorious drug den known as ‘Nkandla’. As part of their reintegration into society, it is extremely important to provide rehabilitating substance users with employment, giving them a sense of purpose and of self-worth, and an income that can assist them to become independent and be fully integrated to the community. As we speak, COSUP provides skills training to 92 rehabilitating substance users,” he said.

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