By Anita Dangazele
The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro has, for the first time ever, launched a local drug action committee to fight the scourge of drug abuse which has led to the crime epidemic in the city.
On Tuesday, NMBM Mayor Gary Van Niekerk established a committee solely dedicated to fighting the epidemic of drug abuse. The committee is set to establish help desks for drug users in every ward within the city.
The help desks will provide support by providing users with counselling services, sending them to drug rehabilitation centres, and providing general support and guidance in terms of readjusting to society after rehabilitation.
Looking at the ever-growing criminal elements as well as vandalism within the city, Van Niekerk said it only made sense to be part of an initiative that will not only rid the youth of drug abuse but will help fight the crime that has engulfed the city.
“We’re tired of addressing the symptoms only. We see the vandalism of our municipal infrastructure, but what we are not really addressing is the cause of why these kids are resorting to this. So the aim is to provide an all-encompassing solution around the drug problem,” he said.
He added that the municipality felt that it needed to get involved as it was the one feeling the pinch of infrastructural damages caused by drug users in communities around the metro.
Stanley Sampson, one of the founding members of the committee, said he had been a drug addict since he was a teenager.
“I started using at the tender age of 19 up until I was 46. One day it dawned on me that I wasted not only my money but my life away by using drugs,” he said.
“All my money went to drugs and I was just a puppet between the dealer and the supplier. I took a decision to change my life. Believe me it wasn’t easy.”
He said after quitting and becoming sober, he started his own drug rehabilitation programme which failed due to funding issues.
Sampson said it filled his heart with so much joy that he will be able to continue helping others get their lives back on track.
Pictured: the newly established local drug action committee in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Image: Anita Dangazele