SUPPORT DON’T PUNISH DRUG USERS
Written by: Nqobile Msomi
‘Support. Don’t Punish!’ is an event that took place in Durban and called for an alternative approach in response to drug abuse. The campaign showed support to drug users and engaged them on the problems they faced.
Professor Monique Marks from Urban Futures Centre (UFC) at the Durban University Technology (DUT), who was part of the organisers, said that the event was happening in over 150 cities around the world, with Durban and Cape Town being the only cities to host it in South Africa.
She begged people to talk about the drug issue because it affects many people.
“If drugs are the solution what is the problem, we need to deal with the problem. The more I see drugs, the more I see people People are what we see when we look at drugs, not drugs. Let’s see the people,” said Professor Marks.
Nombulelo Dlamini, a drug addict, said that she started using heroine which at the time was R10.
“Once I saw that I needed help, people punished me instead of giving me the help I needed. We need help to get out of it, we need a chance, someone to believe in us. We don’t need money but your support. It is so hard for us to go to rehabs because most of them need you to have money,” she begged.
Matsepo Motste, an intern with UFC, said that they were gathered at the event to advocate for better rights for drug users and to get medication from state hospitals.
“At the moment they cannot get methadone, it is only available to people that go to rehabs. We are advocating for that and trying to tell the police not to police the users because they are also victims. They should be arresting people that are selling drugs, not the users,” emphasised Motste.
Actor Malusi Yeni said that he felt the need to engage societies and communities at home, about problems such as youth problems, crime, pregnancy and drug abuse.
“Maybe I can speak to people and some of them can hear me out, maybe I can be a source of motivation. I can be a role model. I can tell a story of what I have achieved and what I have overcome, and that can change somebody’s life. An initiative like this is something I am open to doing and I am open to challenging all of those ills,” stated Yeni.
*Caption: A supporter holding one of the messages emphasised at the event held at DUT’s City Campus.