People's Post

Substance abuse among children a concern

Cough syrup bottles found near the four sleeping girls served as an indicator to officials that they might have been using the substance called ’lean’.
Cough syrup bottles found near the four sleeping girls served as an indicator to officials that they might have been using the substance called ’lean’.

Kevin Southgate, councillor for ward 72, is concerned about the high prevalence of school-going children consuming mind- altering substances after four young girls were found intoxicated at a Retreat park on Monday 19 August.

The girls were found asleep and later dazed and confused, at Julius Crescent Park. By drinking a substance called “lean” is a mixture of cough syrup and cooldrink the girls had placed themselves at risk.

Gavin Walbrugh, Steenberg community policing forum (CPF) chairperson, told People’s Post: “Those girls were found completely passed out.

“Anything could have happened to them. They could have been assaulted, sexually assaulted, they could have been abducted – anything could have happened.”

Sergeant Wesley Twigg, the spokesperson for the Steenberg police station, said the occurrence had been brought to their attention.

He said there had been no grounds for a case to be opened. It was up to the community to work together to find a solution to the problem.

The incident was discussed at a CPF meeting on the same day the children were found.

Walbrugh said: “There is concern surrounding this phenomenon. It is becoming a widespread problem.

“We need to get together with all role-players regarding how we’re going to address this. We need to engage the schools, police and parents.”

He added that it had become a social problem similar to that of drug abuse. They would also like to engage social workers to find solutions.

Philisa Abafazi Bethi, a long-standing community initiative that strives to empower Lavender Hill residents – especially women and children – will convene role-players at Lavender Hill High School on Sunday 31 August from 10:00 to find solutions to the growing problem.

Founder of the organisation, Lucinda Evans, detailed what they hope to achieve at the meeting.

“One of the outcomes of the intervention is to establish a drug-prevention task team consisting of learners, parents, stakeholders, and educators – including primary school educators – to advocate for laws to be changed around the dispensing of medication,” she said.

She encouraged the entire community to attend the meeting and also invited pharmacists to give guidance and advice on the laws of pharmaceuticals.

Southgate said some of the other names that “lean” goes by are “sizzurp”, “purple drank” syrup. He wants parents to be vigilant should their children use these terms.

V Follow @PhilisaAbafazi on Facebook for more information on the meeting or call 081 7469 889.

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