The growing problem of substance abuse in the community of Schauderville in Gqeberha is cause for concern, following a number of violent incidents attributed to drug addiction.
This small community in the gang-ridden northern areas is calling for intervention and assistance to rehabilitate addicted youth. They feel their dreams for the future are vanishing, and violence is becoming a norm.
SABC News reporter Anda Nqonji met a family whose lives have become a nightmare because of substance abuse.
The family was left distraught following yet another incident that almost claimed a life. Bruised almost beyond recognition – 24-year-old Roniece Cannon is happy to be alive and see her children grow up. What started off as a healthy relationship, quickly took a violent turn.
“My boyfriend took me to an enclosed small toilet, where he started hitting me repeatedly. I remember him jumping on top of me, and I couldn’t breathe. There was a time where I pretended to be dead, but even then he did not let me go. He took my head and hit it against the toilet pipes, I thought I would die,” says Cannon.
Drug use cause of violence
Roniece recalls drugs at the center of each argument with her boyfriend. Being a former drug user herself, she anticipated each argument that would lead to violence.
“This other day, me, my boyfriend and friends went out. An argument ensued between him and his brother after we all smoked tick. I was very afraid cause I knew it would all turn on me, and I knew he would be violent. He was so angry that he even said our child was not his, but his brother’s,” says Cannon.
The alleged perpetrator has since been arrested but the victim’s mother wishes that her daughter could also get rehabilitated.
“What I want for Roniece is for her to get help. Yes, she has been off drugs now because I keep an eye on her. But I would love for her to go to the rehabilitation centre. I want her to get back on her feet and finish her matric and be a good mother for her children. That’s it,” says Cannon’s mother.
This is one of many violent cases plaguing this community that are attributed to drug abuse.
“People here are really into drugs and many children will drop out of school because of that and become drug addicts. It is very sad but at least we have started a group to keep the children off the streets and assist, hoping that it makes them better adults,” says Ayaan Farah, Community Member.
Though this type of aggression has become common, help is not always easily accessible.
“It is really unfortunate that there is a clear relationship between drugs and violence. You do see centers to take in victims of abuse but there are very few to no rehabilitation centers, and that is a huge stumbling block. And is a point of concern,” says Psychologist Kempi van Rooyen.
According to recent research, drug abuse is prevalent in the country. An estimated one out of every five adults, abuse substances like alcohol, dagga and painkillers.