Pubdate: Fri, 25 Jun 2004
Source: Cape Times (South Africa)
Copyright: 2004 Cape Times
Author: Aziz Hartley


Mitchell's Plain school children took to the streets in their thousands 
yesterday in an anti-drug protest.

After they had lined streets throughout the area with placards, they 
gathered at the Portlands sports field.

Education MEC Cameron Dugmore told them their fight against drug abuse 
could be equated with the 1976 student uprising against apartheid.

"Students of 1976 ensured that we have freedom today. Just like they stood 
up against apartheid, likewise we must say 'away with drugs' in Mitchell's 
Plain. I'm very proud of students for taking a stand, but parents must also 
speak out and come out in support of their children," he said.

Mitchell's Plain has been hard hit by crystal methamphetamine, better known 
as tik. The drug can be injected, smoked through a straw or snorted.

The Mitchell's Plain Tik Task Team handed community safety MEC Leonard 
Ramatlakane a memorandum which included demands for drug testing at 
schools, a rehabilitation centre and raids on druglords.

In a brief response Ramatlakane said: "We'll look at this memorandum and 
we're going to action it in the provincial government."

Cameron said the issues would be attended to as early as next week.

"There is already a task team of the education, health, social services and 
sport and recreation departments, and it is chaired by Mr Ramatlakane. The 
memorandum we received today will be given attention by next week.

"The commitment and efforts of this community need to be recognised," 
Dugmore said.

Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said due to a programme 
designed to fight organised crime, a number of people, including some drug 
barons were held in detention.

"Information we're getting from them will assist us in apprehending others. 
We have identified about 200 people, but due to operational reasons we can 
not divulge information about them."

The tik task team chairman Faiez Abrahams said: "We've got support from the 
government and we are winning the battle against tik. This is clear because 
more people are coming forward for counselling. There are tik awareness 
programmes at schools and more than 100 people have been trained as 

Recovered drug addict, Michael Domingo, shared his experience with the 
scholars and warned them of the dangers of drugs.

"I grew up in a loving home but always wanted more. At school I was offered 
drugs which led me to cheat and steal.

"I hated myself for thinking that those who gave me drugs were my friends. 
It's difficult to admit, but I gave up drugs with the help that was 
available. Now I'm glad to have my family back and to have true friends," 
Domingo said.
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