Whoonga rehab closes

2011-04-13 00:00

HOPES of keeping whoonga out of KwaZulu-Natal townships seem to be fading after an organisation that was campaigning against the drug has closed due to a lack of funding.

The Whoonga Free project closed down last month after it had helped to rehabilitate about 50 whoonga smokers around the province, especially in Durban.

Its co-founder, Vumani Gwala, said that when the project started in February last year it created a lot of hope for parents whose children were hooked on the drug.

“We visited a number of radio stations around the province promoting the project, and as a result we ended up getting lots of calls from parents who wanted their children to be helped.

“We still get lots of those calls, but the problem is that we can no longer do anything since we have run out of money,” said Gwala.

He said whoonga smokers are mostly young people who are unemployed and do nothing with their lives.

“One of the ways to help the smokers out of the habit was to help them find jobs so that they could support themselves and also support the project, but it became clear that it is difficult to secure jobs in this country,” he said.

Gwala said their plea to the government to help save the project was fruitless.

Despite the closure of the project, Gwala said there are still smokers who are being rehabilitated by few social workers.

“But that, too, will not last because the cost of rehabilitation is too high.”

Gwala runs a music recording company that works with artists such as the popular gospel singers, Sfiso Ncwane and Andile ka­Majola.

He said he and a friend, Thokozani Sokhulu, started the project to deal with the high rate of crime in townships.

“I was afraid that if I didn’t do anything about whoonga my business could end up being the target of crime,” said Gwala.

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