In the Eastern Cape, young children are being used as drug mules in gang-ravaged areas and the problem has since  caught the attention of the Department of Social Development.

The department is concerned that children could be lost to a culture of crime.

“It is truly disturbing and heartbreaking to see the increased levels of crime and substance abuse, particularly in the Nelson Mandela region, especially because children are becoming the centre of it, being used to sell and transport these drugs, weapons – and without these children we have no future,” says Social Development MEC, Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi.

Earlier this month, the Eastern Cape police caught a 10-year-old boy in possession 500 mandrax tablets. He was travelling in a taxi from Port Elizabeth to Somerset East.

The tablets were in his school bag and had an estimated street value of over R30 000.

The boy said he was not aware that he was carrying drugs.

In terms of the Child Justice Act, the child was released into the care of his parents.

Mandrax mixed with dagga is the drug of choice for many users and South Africa is one of the largest users of mandrax world-wide.

Police have urged parents to ensure their children do not fall into this trap.