Johannesburg- Thembi Ndlela is immediately reduced to tears when she tells the story of how his 18-year-old son was lured into a life of drugs and gangsterism that has engulfed
several townships in Durban.
Ndlela, 36, of eFolweni township near Amanzimtoti, south coast of Durban, told Sunday World that gangsters were running riot, recruiting unsuspecting youngsters and turning them into drug merchants.
“I did everything right as a single parent, I raised him well. I took him to good schools and he excelled in his studies. Something went terribly wrong when he started experimenting with drugs,” Ndlela lamented.
She said when she discovered several sachets of dagga in her son’s school bag, she knew that something was amiss.
“He was in grade 9 at the time. I was angry and shocked. I questioned him and he just said it was his side hustle. He has been to rehab countless times until I accepted that I had lost the fight. I sometimes blame myself that maybe I failed in my parental duties,” said Ndlela.
She added that her son, who quit school in grade 11, graduated from selling dagga into heavy drugs such as whoonga, a prevalent drug bedeviling the townships in Durban.
“Together with other youngsters, he sells these drugs for feared drug lords. Drug lords are respected by the police, we are powerless as parents.
“In one instance, he survived death when they were ambushed in a drug house. While they were lucky to flee, two of his friends were shot and killed.”
The whoonga turf wars have already left scores of young people dead, including school pupils who are used as merchants to sell to their peers.
In an ongoing deadly war over drug turf, on December 13 six people were mowed down to death in a house in Mngadi Road in eFolweni.
During the killing, which is believed to be gang-related, two innocent women were mercilessly shot to death.
On August 28 in Zamani informal settlement in Umlazi, 14-year-old Manelisi Mbhele, Xolisile Mzimela, 23, and her boyfriend Mphathiseni Manyoni were killed while cooking supper.
They were caught in the crossfire when heavily armed gunmen, allegedly looking for rival gang members, fired high calibre shots.
The streets of Mpumalanga township, uMlazi, Inanda, Ntuzuma, and eFolweni are some that have seen a high rate of killings related to whoonga turf wars.
Complicating the war against the infiltration of drugs is that those who are witnesses in drug-related killings are hunted down and silenced.
KwaZulu-Natal is not the only province where gangsters are calling the shots.
Last month,29-year-old Nicky Jacobs’ young life was ended through the barrel of a gun in Cape Town’s gang-ridden Bonteheuwel.
Jacobs had been walking home with her five-year-old daughter when she was struck by stray bullets as rival gangs were shooting each other.
Community activist Dernado Abrahams said there were fears after it emerged that some gang members were now pursuing the five-year-old because she witnessed the killing.
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