Whoonga addicts ask for help

2013-09-11 00:00

MORE than 20 young people from the drug-infested Albert Park area in Durban, came out and sought help to fight their addiction to the heroin-based drug whoonga.

This followed after a clash on Sunday between groups of people in the area, which left one person dead, and four Metro police officers and a commuter injured, in what was believed to be drug-related violence. Two shops that were believed to have been selling drugs were also looted.

eThekwini Metro spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng said a number of young people from the area had since approached Metro officials, who were deployed to the area to monitor the situation after the violence, and requested professional help for their drug addiction.

Mofokeng said the Metro was viewing this as a positive move towards the right path.

“These are young people from around Durban. Some confessed to leaving their homes looking for better prospects of feeding their addiction to whoonga. They also said the drug is accessed easily and cheaper in the area,” said Mofokeng.

He said the Metro had identified Albert Park as a hot spot for the drug and have been offering assistance to some addicts this year.

“The municipality has since enlisted assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and the police. We have undertaken to profile the community in Khuzimpi Street Road reserve, which is commonly known as ‘Whoonga Park’. Most of the people interviewed were South Africans. The foreign nationals were reluctant to be interviewed,” said Mofokeng.

Twenty-six individuals have been accepted at rehabilitation centres around Durban since the violence and the municipality is working with the department to find accommodation for more, he said.

“Currently the Metro is working with social development, SAPS, Metro Police, Railway Police, Safer Cities, ward committees and the community in general to address the key challenges in this area. We are also looking into partnerships with other NGOs who are willing to assist,” he said.

Metro police spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi, said Sunday afternoon’s incident was sincerely regretted.

“The Metro Police will continue deploying enhanced presence at Albert Park until the situation normalises. The city will continue to monitor the situation and facilitate assistance to those who require help. The problem regarding the sale of drugs will be dealt with in conjunction with the SAPS,” he said.

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