More drunken brawls

2012-07-21 00:00

ANGRY young men wrestling with their image among their peers is causing mayhem, as more fights are erupting outside clubs and taverns, and experts say the use of steroids may be adding fuel to the flames of their aggression.

Lucas Holtzhausen from Safe City, a non-profit organisation that monitors parts of the Pietermaritzburg city centre on CCTV and reports crimes, said there were 16 alcohol-related fights in the city centre last week alone.

“The bouncers are instructed to stop the fights,” said Carlos Perestrelo, Crowded House manager. Perestrelo, however, said the problem was that many of the fights take place further down the road, away from the sight of any authorities.

Crowded House night club has been in the media recently after the alleged racist assault of Likwando Mbumwae outside the premises. This matter will be back in court on July 26.

The Origin night club in Durban has adopted a no pass-out policy, to “minimise disturbance in the street and ensure optimal consideration of the local residents”, according to its website.

The combination of muscle and a fighting reputation is considered to have been bred through a culture of machismo that is typically exhibited to attract female attention.

“Fighting has become a psychological task for teenagers, in an attempt to establish their identity and sexuality. The media these days has become a major influence, with video games and TV promoting violence almost as a means of resolve,” said Clive Willows, a psychologist in Pietermaritzburg

Claire Hartshorne, another psychologist in Pietermaritzburg, said, “Steroid use is becoming a problem, with a big focus on gyms for teenagers coming out of schools.”

Anabolic steroid use has the effect of elevated levels of testosterone, which can lead to increased aggression, known to users as “roid rage”.

“I have suspected some people of using steroids, although they would not openly admit to it. I definitely discourage my clients from using them,” said Nicola Portela, a biokineticist in Pietermaritzburg.

A pharmacist, who asked not to be named said, “They [steroids] are supplied by unscrupulous doctors, gym operators, or the users just go down to the docks in Durban.”

He also commented on the danger of steroids, which can lead to cardiovascular damage, liver damage and stunted growth in teenagers. Steroids, which have been typically used for increasing muscle mass for sport and weight/power lifting, are now being used for cosmetic reasons by teenagers.

Durban-based clinical and sport psychologist Kirsten van Heerden said, “Sport is a good way of sublimating these natural instincts to fight and it is a more socially acceptable form of doing so.”

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan confirmed that fighting incidents are reported to the police on an ongoing basis.

“These incidents are generally alcohol-related and occur when a person’s reasoning is impaired, and most commonly between persons who know each other. We are calling upon the management of institutions like night clubs and taverns to take the responsibility of ensuring that their patrons are searched for dangerous weapons, and also to ensure that their safety is taken into consideration,” said Jeevan.

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