THE MEC for Social Development in the province, Gift van Staden, has heard the plea of the community of Beaconsfield in Kimberley and has committed to help fight the battle against drug abuse.On Wednesday (13/07) during an anti-drug march, the Department of Social Development heeded an invitation by the community to support the march.Gamiem Abrahams of the department responded to allegations that were published in a daily newspaper earlier last week, that the march was organised by people in the community who belonged to the ANC.“The MEC, on behalf of the department, supported the march after he had become aware how serious the concerns of the community were,” she said. The aim of the march was to raise awareness of the drug crisis that the community faces daily.The community marched through the streets of Beaconsfield where they picketed at drug hotspots.Members of the community said they wanted to create awareness that substance abuse was a factor in the disruption of families and that it contributed to social decay. Domestic and gang violence, robbery and assault are some of the effects that the community has to bear because of substance abuse. The effects of substance abuse can also be seen among victims of road traffic accidents, which includes occupants as well as pedestrians.“Alcohol and drug abuse causes major health, social and economic hardship and adversity in our communities. “Substance abuse is a major factor in increased crime, women and child abuse, ill-health, violence, absenteeism, school failure, poor productivity, unemployment, break-up of families and in many other matters that impact on development,” said one of the marchers, Susan Koopman.Van Staden said the issue of drug abuse required a multi-pronged approach.He pointed out that government had assigned a task team consisting of members of the South African Police Service, of the Department of Safety and Security and non-profit organisations, among others, to react to the drug-related challenges the community of Beaconsfield was facing.He encouraged the youth to grab every opportunity offered to them by government to improve their lives, instead of using lame excuses of unemployment to do drugs.Abrahams said the march had not been as successful as had been hoped because some people had been afraid to take part or to support the initiative because they had been threatened by drug dealers.