Mokonyane details 'lolly lounge' plan

2013-05-22 12:05
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane. (File, Sapa)

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane. (File, Sapa)

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Zuma tackles drug issues in Eldorado Park

2013-05-15 09:10

During a visit to Eldorado Park in Johannesburg, President Jacob Zuma promised to tackle the drug problem rampant in the community. Watch.WATCH

Johannesburg - Four children, including an 8-year-old, have been removed from "lolly lounges" in Eldorado Park in the past week, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said on Wednesday.

"Four children have been taken away and they are now in alternative centres because of their vulnerability," Mokonyane said.

She was briefing journalists on action taken since President Jacob Zuma's pledge last week to crack down on rampant drug abuse in the area. On 14 May, Zuma addressed residents after receiving a letter from resident Cordelia Bailey about drug abuse.

In the letter she described "lolly lounges" as places where young girls were lured with payments of R100 to entertain men. They became hooked on drugs and stayed on as prostitutes, getting their drugs for free as they kept clients "happy".

'Crisis, abnormality'

Zuma called it "a crisis, an abnormality", and a committee was appointed to tackle the problem.

Mokonyane said 20 people had been arrested in connection with operating the "lolly lounges".

She is on the committee, along with Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Gauteng provincial police commissioner Mzwandile Petros, and representatives of the departments of social development, correctional services, trade and industry, and economic development.

A joint operations centre had been established and Petros would co-ordinate the drug-busting policing with metro police.

Plans were afoot to start a seven-day intensive detoxification programme at nearby Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, as well as other programmes for rehabilitation and aftercare.

Crackdown

Buildings belonging to the City of Johannesburg, such as flats and houses, which were being used for drug activities and “lolli lounges”, would be cleared or demolished.

A "non-negotiable" meeting with school governing bodies would also take place.

School gates would be closed during the day, fences repaired, and food and sweets vendors around schools regularly inspected.

There would be "patrollers" within school premises and impromptu drug searches.

Youth safety imbizos, a youth against drugs forum, and substance abuse and social crime prevention workshops would be held.

The committee would examine the possibility of introducing World Cup-style specialist courts to deal swiftly with drug-related crime in the area.

Businesses would be approached to invest in the area and the departments of sport and recreation, and arts and culture would start projects for youth development and social cohesion.

Funding would be increased for in- and out-patient treatment centres and those not registered would be given "remedial" assistance.

Cleaning up the streets

Since the joint operations centre in Kremetart Street was launched, 116 people had been arrested in the area - 43 for drug-related crimes, 20 for driving under the influence of alcohol, 10 for assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, five for burglary, five for theft out of a motor vehicle, and two for unlicensed firearms.

The drugs confiscated included Cat, Mandrax, cocaine and nyaope.

Mokonyane apologised to residents for potential inconvenience during the intervention plan.

"But it is going to be in the best interests of our community," she said.

Mthethwa said the plan would be ongoing.

Doreleene James, who spoke during Zuma's visit of her despair during her son's drug addiction, thanked the team.

"Thank you for taking us seriously," she said.

Read more on:    mzwandile petros  |  nomvula mokonyane  |  nathi mthethwa  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg  |  narcotics

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