Illegal Cape Town drug rehab centre shut down after torture, abuse allegations

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An illegal drug rehab centre has been shut down in Ruyterwacht.
An illegal drug rehab centre has been shut down in Ruyterwacht.
  • A 35-year-old man from the facility was reported missing and was later found dead at a mortuary. 
  • Western Cape Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez urged the public not to use illegal rehab facilities. 
  • Another man claimed he had been tortured at the facility.

An illegal drug rehabilitation facility in Ruyterwacht is under investigation after allegations of abuse and assault of patients emerged on Wednesday.

According to SAPS, a 35-year-old male was reported missing on Tuesday by his Elsies River family at the local police station. 

Police spokesperson, Captain FC van Wyk said according to reports, the man was admitted to a rehabilitation centre in Ruyterwacht, and when the family enquired about him, he could not be found.

"The investigating officer went to the rehabilitation centre in Louis Botha Street, Ruyterwacht, where he was confronted by patients reporting claims of abuse and assault," Van Wyk said. 

"On further investigation, the missing person's body was discovered at a mortuary, registered as an inquest.  The case has since been updated to a murder which is currently under investigation."

Western Cape police added that a case of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm (GBH) was also opened after a 35-year-old from Allison Close in Tafelsig alleged that he was a patient at the rehabilitation centre and that he had been assaulted and tortured.

The patient claimed nails were hammered into his feet; that his hands were tied while sanitiser was sprayed on him and that he was set alight.

Two suspects aged 15 and 40 were arrested and would appear in the Goodwood Magistrate's Court.

Western Cape Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez urged the public not to use illegal rehab facilities after "the provincial Department of Social Development (DSD) received distressing reports of a murder at an illegal substance abuse rehabilitation centre operating out of a residence in Ruyterwacht".

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Fernandez added:

There have also been allegations of torture and abuse of patients at the residence. The SAPS has made a number of arrests and removed all patients from the site back to their families.

Fernandez condemned the actions of those responsible, and called on the SAPS and prosecuting authority to ensure that they were not allowed to intimidate or have any contact with their victims while the prosecution was under way. 

She said while sharing a space or living with an addict could be challenging, they appealed to people to ensure that loved ones signed up for treatment at a registered facility.

"Operating an unregistered rehab is illegal. The problem with illegal rehabs is that they may not comply with the prescribed norms and standards which includes having the right qualified professionals providing recognised structured treatment programmes. They may not implement recognised treatment protocols," said Fernandez.

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