Learners warned against drugs

2019-08-07 06:01
Ivor Swartz addresses Olympia Primary School learners on the dangers of drug abuse. Photo: Supplied

Ivor Swartz addresses Olympia Primary School learners on the dangers of drug abuse. Photo: Supplied

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Former gangster Ivor Swartz opened up a chapter of his previously misguided life to learners of Olympia Primary School in Heidedal.

He was the guest speaker at a two-day Community Outreach Drug Awareness campaign led by the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Division for Organisational Development and Employee Wellness on 11 and 12 July.

His father died when he was just three years old. A mourning single mother had to raise three boys. As the middle child, feeling abandoned and unloved, Swartz joined a gang.

Opening up about his chapter of misguided life that started at age 15, Swartz said: “Home was a cold and empty place and so were the streets of Grabouw, a small town in the Western Cape where I grew up. Because I’m not loved at home, maybe I will feel loved on the streets.”

Swartz said he turned to drugs for comfort. An altercation with a friend at a local tavern one evening set the tone, Swartz recalls.

They pulled out guns and fired shots at two males. “My judgement was clouded by the drugs, so my friend and I shot my blood brother,” he remorsefully reminisces.

Swartz paid the price serving six-and-a-half years in prison, during which he matriculated. He has been a free man for 14 years.

For the past five years Swartz has been a youth pastor at the St. Paul’s United Church in Johannesburg. He has also trained as a life coach and holds an honours degree in Theology from the University of Pretoria.

Swartz shared his story with 1 100 learners of Olympia, sternly warning them against doing drugs.

Burneline Kaars, head of the UFS Division for Organisational Development and Employee Wellness, said the campaign was one of the ways in which the university strive to improve the well-being of staff and the community at large.

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