SPEECH BY THE ACTING PREMIER OF THE NORTHERN CAPE, MS GRIZELDA CJIEKELLA ON THE OCCASSION OF THE LAUNCH OF THE NORTHERN CAPE SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION STRATEGY, 21 JUNE 2012, FLOORS NORTH PRIMARY SCHOOL
MEC for Social Development, Mr. Alvin Botes
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am truly blessed to be part of this historic launching of the Northern Cape Provincial Substance Abuse Prevention Strategy.
It is indeed a confirmation of the dedication of the leadership collective and the people of Northern Cape to stem the tide against the scourge of substance abuse in our province.
Looking around the province, we know how easy it is for youth to grow up in an environment where drugs are commonplace. It has corrosive effects, and weakens whole generations of people.
This development concerns us greatly. Once a person becomes addicted to drugs, his future or even his life can be destroyed. We do not want to see even one life wasted on drugs.
Programme Director, the devastating consequences of substance abuse has the potential to undermine the gains which our new dispensation has made possible.
Consequently, substance abuse is the leading cause of crime and contributes to poverty, dysfunctional families and communities, the burden of disease, injury and premature death.
This prevention strategy is a direct response to the substance abuse problem which is prevalent in the Northern Cape Province.
The Strategy is also mandated by the Prevention of and Treatment for substance abuse Act which stipulates that departments and organs of state must, through multi-sectoral strategies take reasonable measures within the scope of line functions and resources to develop and coordinate interventions to combat substance abuse.
Programme Director, in 1987 the United Nations General Assembly declared 26 June as the, International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
This day is celebrated as a reminder of the goals agreed to by member states of creating an international society free of drug abuse.
Appropriately the theme for the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking for 2012 is “Global Actions for Healthy Communities without Drugs”.
This theme speaks to the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to substance abuse eradication in order to have healthy communities.
We must continue to forge effective partnerships with all the sectors of society in mobilising communities behind the vision of a drug free society and put education and awareness programmes at the centre of their strategies.
The provincial substance abuse prevention strategy in the main seeks to enhance efforts to combat substance abuse so as to build safer and healthier communities.
Our government believes that the building of a caring society begins with strong families and vibrant communities.
The goals of the strategy are also to:
Use supply reduction measures to curb the production, manufacturing and distribution of drugs, thereby promoting safe and drug free communities
To reduce the demand for substances through prevention and early intervention programmes, with a view to discouraging the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs and promoting healthy lifestyles
To reduce the harm associated with substance abuse and to mitigate its health and psychosocial impact by providing holistic treatment services for affected individuals and families.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me start by analysing the drug problem in the province, in order for us to have a comprehensive understanding of the nature and extent of this problem and show how the provincial Strategy would help prevent it.
The National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (2008), conducted nationally amongst 1147 youth, including participants in 22 schools across the Northern Cape found that:
The NC had the highest proportion of learners who have used alcohol on school property in school time during the past month of the survey.
The survey also indicated that the Northern Cape had the highest prevalence of learners who used dagga before the age of 13 (9.2%) compared to the Free State (3.2%) and the North West which had the lowest against the national average of 5.2%.
It also had the highest prevalence of learners having used dagga on school property during the month preceding the month of the survey, with “coloured” learners and children who are 13 and below, and increasing with age, being part of this group.
It also reported that NC had the highest prevalence of learners who have used cocaine (10.4%) when compared to other provinces and a national average of 6.7%
Limpopo and the NC had the highest prevalence of learners who have used heroine (10.4%)
NC had the highest prevalence of learners that have used club drugs (12%)
Surprisingly¸ the Northern Cape had the highest prevalence of learners (10.5%) who have used ‘Tik’; the national average is 6.6%.
The Northern Cape had the second highest proportion of learners who reported having engaged in sex after consuming alcohol.
It is common knowledge that alcohol and other drugs decrease inhibitions and safe sex negotiation skills, which makes young people even more vulnerable to unprotected sex associated with unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
More disappointing, the Northern Cape had the highest prevalence of learners who had been threatened or injured by someone with a weapon (17.9%) and the highest prevalence of learners who have driven a vehicle on a public road after taking alcohol (24.7% [National 7.8%]).
It also an open secret that the province has the world’s highest reported prevalence of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome commonly known as FAS, which is a group of physical and mental defects caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Problems presenting in children with FAS include the following:
Disruption of school experience;
Trouble with the law ( there is an unconfirmed assumption that 50-70% might have FAS);
Inappropriate sexual behaviour;
Alcohol and drug related problems (Science in Africa, 2006).
A research commissioned by the provincial government and conducted by UNISA in 2001, found that in 40% of murder cases, 25% of rape cases, and 18% of assault cases (grievous bodily harm or GBH), the perpetrator was said to have used alcohol.
Police recorded use of alcohol by the victim in 73% of murder cases and 33% of rape cases.
The 2010/11 crime statistics show a sharp increase in drug related crimes in the province – from 2371 in 2009/10 to 2418 in 2010/11, a staggering and shocking 20% increase!
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are launching this provincial substance abuse strategy with a main focus on effective law enforcement against those involved in drug trafficking of illegal drugs.
We are concerned about the negative impact of alcohol and substance abuse on individuals, families and communities.
We seek to intensify efforts to combat alcohol and substance abuse and have declared all out war on substance abuse.
We will allow proactive policing to prevent the production, manufacture and supply of illegal drugs, including precursor chemicals used for processing various drugs or used in the manufacture of synthetic drugs
To this end, we will also use judicially sanctioned intelligence and evidence gathering techniques:
To ensure the detection, arrests and prosecution of drug offenders (traffickers) in the criminal justice system.
To reduce drug related crimes e.g. money laundering and drug related violence, gangsterism, etc
To implement effective legislation and regulation of harmful use of otherwise beneficial and lawful substances such as prescription and over the counter drugs
To implement effective legislation and regulation of alcohol through improved management of the liquor trade and elimination of trade in harmful concoctions brewed in some communities.
To law enforcement aimed at promoting the safety of communities
And to encourage involvement of communities in solving the drug problem through Community Policing Forums
Let we also warn those who are driving under the influence of alcohol to desist from contravening our laws.
We will soon see the implementation of more effective drunk driving counter measures and improve the efficiency of detection systems by all stakeholders including the police, health, and the criminal justice system, as well as providing brief counter measures such as counselling and treatment, for high risk drinkers.
Ladies and gentlemen, all these efforts are at the heart of building a caring, people centred society and promoting healthy living standards, especially for our youth.
We must continue to build a consensus of zero drug tolerance.
Our aim of a drug-free Northern Cape can only be attained with the involvement of the whole community.
Let us unite in our efforts and ensure a better life for all our people and especially our youth, who are our future leaders.
I thank you