Save our children, Eldos mothers plead with Jacob Zuma

2013-05-14 16:33

President Jacob Zuma has promised swift action to solve the crime and drug-abuse problems that are bedevilling the community of Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg.

Local women led by Daraleen James, the mother of a drug-addicted teenager, wrote to Zuma asking him to intervene to help save their children from local druglords.

Community members pleaded with Zuma to change the Eldorado police unit, which they accused of collaborating with drug peddlers and of failing to close “lolly lounges” – the houses where children sell sex in exchange for drugs.

James told Zuma that her fear was that he would not return after hearing about their lot, and pleaded with him as a father to “give us the hope we require for our addicted kids, and ensure that the courts and the police don’t look the other way”.

After holding a meeting with the women and hearing stories from people who spoke at a community gathering organised by government, Zuma said the letter he received was “more than shocking” and said it suggested that the community was in a “crisis”.

The high-profile delegation accompanying Zuma included Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane and Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau.

“We have heard you. It’s not acceptable that a situation where children are hooked on drugs and are taken to rehabilitation centres and as they come back they are put back into the same situation. We must, therefore, address how we save these children,” he said.

He also promised to shut down the lolly lounges and said he had noted their concerns about the police officers who are “helping themselves” instead of attending to the residents’ complaints.

“You are saying instead of doing their jobs, they are protecting druglords. That’s a very serious statement against the government. We must take action. We would not be the government if we don’t take action,” said Zuma, who also undertook to personally lead the campaign to address the plight of Eldorado Park residents.

He said drugs cannot be allowed to rule communities, saying the laws would need “to be addressed” if necessary to ensures that drug dealers do not hide behind technicalities.

Speaking on the sidelines of the gathering, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said he would hold a meeting with the local police this afternoon. But he wouldn’t say what action he would take to address the residents’ concerns.

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