Call for government to urgently make pronouncements and provisions for non-profits and rehab centres dealing with substance abuse during the lockdown
CLEAN-UP Squad founder Khutsi Malala has appealed to the Department of Social Development to act fast in aiding nyaope (whoonga) users who are now drinking sanitisers to get a high during the lockdown.
On Tuesday, Malala told his Ga-Rankuwa FM breakfast show listeners that desperate users and heavy drinkers were now drinking a concoction of sanitisers containing 70% alcohol and energy drinks.
Malala, whose Clean-Up Squad assists nyaope users by taking them to rehabilitation centres, said government urgently needed to make pronouncements and provisions for non-profits and rehab centres dealing with substance abuse during the lockdown.
“We are seriously disappointed that the focus is on cigarettes, while it should be on hard drug users and heavy drinkers who are now using sanitisers as substitutes. We humbly call upon the department to open up rehab centres during this lockdown and to come up with a plan on how best to assist users during this difficult time that the country is facing. More than ever, we need these centres to open because people are suffering from withdrawal symptoms and need their fixes,” he said.
RADIO presenter and activist Khutsi Malala with sanitiser seized from substance abusers, who intended drinking it to get high. Picture: Supplied
Malala commended government efforts to place users in shelters but said the temporary shelters housing nyaope users were not equipped with dealing with substance abusers.
“The issue also includes alcoholics who aren’t even aware that they have a drinking problem. We’ve seen in dismay how people are now dangerously brewing their own beer and drinking sanitisers. Government needs to quickly act and beef up NPOs with resources or assistance and swiftly open up rehab centres,” he said.
Obed Moella, an alcoholic, said he would rather drink the sanitisers than face the withdrawal, which he could not cope with.
“Maybe if rehabs were open we’d go there, but at this point, it’s so tough. My friends and I were even inhaling body sprays just to help us get a high. We really need help. At this point, rather than go to a shelter I would check myself into a rehabilitation centre for help,” he said.
Malala said that if government failed to give a clear directive on the issue, together with other local NPOs, his organisation would be forced to start a petition and eventually plan an online protest against the government regarding lockdown rules.