Pubdate: Thu, 19 May 2005
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2005 Cape Argus.
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


I was raised by a single parent.

I am the youngest of six children of whom the second eldest died from
an HIV/Aids-related illness.

My mother went through the hardship of raising all of us, but one
thing kept the family going and that is all the love in the world she
could give to us.

Primary school years were quite normal although at times we had to go
to bed with only a plate of mealie pap in our bellies. I excelled
throughout primary school.

In high school in 1980 I was diagnosed with TB and got terribly ill,
but I conquered that dreaded disease that's killing millions of
impoverished people today. That year was my first exposure to the
student political struggle.

In 1984 I became fully involved politically on student

I was brutalised and detained every year up until 1989 and along the
way lost many comrades such as Ashley Kriel, Anton Fransch, Colleen
Williams, Robert Waterwitch and Andre Robertson.

These are only but a few loved ones I have lost, but this did not
deter me from fighting for a better life for all.

I got a first glimpse of a free South Africa while I was in detention
at Pollsmoor prison in 1987 with (Premier) Ebrahim Rasool and (Finance
Minister) Trevor Manuel.

Then when Christo Brandt, the warder who was assigned to us, informed
us of a Rivonia Trialist who was going to be released that year, I was
overjoyed and shouted out loud: "Freedom is coming!"

The 1990s saw a new era.

Political prisoners were released, organisations were

The hard, sometimes painstaking, work was not in vain.

In 1994 I got a job in government and have held it up until now, but
something went terribly wrong.

I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because of all the
bad and inhumane things that happened to me in the 1980s.

I tended to forget about these things by abusing alcohol and I
substituted alcohol by using tik for a year.

Things got worse.

My marriage is in a shambles, I have to face a disciplinary hearing at
work. Family violence has become the order of the day.

By using tik I became a lonely person and I felt isolated from the
very community I served, because of the shame, anger and grief I feel.

I went into rehabilitation at the end of last year, relapsed and
returned to do the relapse programme not too long ago.

I have been clean for a few weeks.

I would like to apologise to my wife and son, my family, my wife's
family and my community as a whole for putting them through hell
because of my addiction. Please forgive me.

Right now I want to plough back into my community by motivating those
young, suffering addicts not to use tik.

It is a substance that will destroy you and the very life of your
families. Especially the young students of the Western Cape, mark and
hear my plea. Please talk about the problem you have to someone
trustworthy. It will save your future and life.

I would welcome ideas from other readers on how government should
respond to this social crisis and how we can fight this disease of
drug addiction in our society.

Name and address withheld
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake