18 June 2013
Drug and alcohol abuse are the enemies of South Africa’s freedom and democracy, President Jacob Zuma told young people gathered in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal for national Youth Day celebrations on Sunday.
“Alcohol and drug abuse in particular are slowly eating into the social fibre of our communities,” Zuma said, adding crime and gangsterism, child and women abuse, teenage pregnancy and truancy, and mob justice and xenophobia to the list of “cancers that are painfully eating our society”.
“Thus our special message to the youth of the Republic today is that you must become an integral part of the struggle against all these cancers.”
He urged young people to take up this fight with the same vigour that “we fought apartheid, and the zest that is displayed in our successful fight against HIV and Aids today.
“Drug and substance abuse have serious implications for the millions of citizens because they contribute to crime, gangsterism, domestic violence, family dysfunction and other forms of social problems.”
He said the government would respond with more determination than ever to the cries of the youth of Eldorado Park, Mabopane, Westbury, Mamelodi and other areas where drugs were wreaking havoc in communities.
“As we speak today, many parents are in pain, as they watch their children deteriorating and their lives being destroyed by drugs and alcohol abuse.
“I have heard tales of children as young as eight years old who are now addicted to drugs. I have heard tales of young girls who are molested in drug dens.”
Drug traffickers, and those who ran illegal outlets that sold alcohol to children, should be declared the enemies of freedom, Zuma said. “They should be ashamed of running businesses that destroy children, the youth and many families.”
He said the government and its partners were implementing an Anti-Substance National Plan of Action, and urged communities to play an active role in ensuring its success.
He said the plan focused on enabling policy and legislation, reducing the supply and demand of drugs, as well as treating and rehabilitating addicts.
He added that there were already 215 local drug action committees around the country that were helping communities to manage their own preventative work at grassroots level.
“We need to work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that such people are brought to book. We must report them, so that we can stop them from destroying our communities.”