Gauteng beats substance abuse, but ‘nyaope’ still haunts Lesufi

Despite reaching some of his key milestones as Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi feels more can still be done regarding the crackdown on drug abuse among young people.

Provincial government insiders said Lesufi felt let down that substance abuse still remained prevalent in the province because “that was one of his pet peeves.”

During government roadshows, communities complained that unemployed youth were falling victims to the dangerous “nyaope” drug, and desperate parents requested government assistance with rehabilitation.

“I think, given a chance, he will come back and focus on that area of substance abuse,” said a source within Lesufi’s administration.

During the State of the Province address on Monday, Lesufi announced that 2 000 unemployed social workers and retired nurses will be hired across Gauteng schools to support girl children, as well as the fight against drugs.

He quoted the former Azapo president and minister, Mosibudi Mangena, who wrote in a Sunday World article last weekend on the challenges of drugs among communities, saying that the country could not handle widespread crimes of murder, rape, assault, gender-based violence, or other violence without regulating drug and alcohol availability.

To date, said Lesufi, “the Ke Moja Without Drugs programme has reached over 6-million substance abusers. We assisted 155 616 service users to access substance use disorder (SUD) treatment services.”

Under his administration, 205 071 drug addicts were rehabilitated, including those placed in aftercare facilities, and substance abuse prevention programmes reached 15 832 764.

“I am happy to announce that we have entered into a private-public partnership with Clinix Health Group of hospitals for the provision of inpatient treatment services, which include 119 inpatient treatment beds, 200 outpatient treatment programmes, and 160 halfway house beds.”

The provincial government launched the Anti-Substance Abuse Helpline after the massification of substance abuse in October 2022.

“The campaign increased the demand for treatment services, and by the end of December 2023, a total of 25 402 service requests were registered, with the highest usage being crystal meth, followed by nyaope,” he said.

Lesufi said the provincial government provided various treatment interventions, and 4 851 users received in-patient treatment services from government and non-profit organisation treatment centres.

“We provided over 8 000 outpatient services and 8 304 community-based services. Service users in recovery are linked to aftercare support services to enhance their success in leading a
sober lifestyle. We are pleased that over 700 recovering service users have been provided with skills development opportunities,” he said.

As promised in the 2023 SOPA, he continued: “We are expanding our drug facilities and bed capacity to accommodate the growing need for the rehabilitation of drug and substance abusers in Gauteng.”

He said the provincial government has expanded the Dr. F&F facility, which will be operational by June through a partnership with the South African National Defence Force.

“We will also host a drug open day wherein we will allow all those struggling with substance abuse to be given assistance.”

Efforts to reduce the supply of drugs in Gauteng are pleasing, Lesufi said, thanks in part to SAPS and other law enforcement agencies. He said police arrested over 26, 000 suspects for drug possession and 43 for drug dealing this financial year.

“Our concerted efforts to reduce the vast drug supply need a multifaceted approach that includes targeted police operations,” he said.

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