The Concerned Young People went to Cape Town from the 30st of August to the 11th of September to visit schools. We went with a team of about 19 people including young men who have been helped from the problem of drugs. Some of the areas we focussed on were Khayelitsha, Guguletu, Mitchells Plain, Manenberg and some areas. We could also visit two rehabilitation centres and two churches.
During those two weeks, we visited about 105 schools with sometimes as many as 18 presentations in one school. Most of the principals were more than willing to except us as they realised the huge problem they are facing. Some of the most prevalent problems in the Western Cape are drugs, includingdagga and tik, human trafficking, teenage pregnancies, pornography and alcoholism. With regards to drugs, the oka pipe is rife, especially under the Cape Malay. The oka pipe or water pipe is basically another way of smoking. Drugs such as dagga are put in a bowl. It is covered with foil and a lit coal is placed on top. This bowl is placed on a bowl with water to which four pipes are attached. The smoke diffuses through the water and is then smoked through the pipes. Lately, the water has been substituted by alcohol. The oka pipe is being used by most of the children. One session of 45 min smoking the oka pipe is equal to smoking 100 cigarettes. Even 7 and 8 year olds use the oka pipe to smoke since it has different flavours and is seen as a social pastime.
Children, as young as 9 years old are addicted to porn. One boy said that he watches porn with his mother 12:00 at night on tv. At a primary school, the principal mentioned that 5 girls jump over the fence during school time to sell their bodies to get money to buy drugs. Another huge problem is gangsterism. Especially in Manenberg, gangsters are rife. Police are placed at most of the schools in that area for protection. One principal showed a drawer full of knives and a homemade gun which was taken from the learners who wanted to kill a teacher. At another school, each learner is being searched before entering the school grounds. The children are totally uncontrollable. For them it's nothing to kill. If you don't like a person, you just kill him. If you ask them what their dreams are to become one day, they'll tell you they want to become a taxi driver, gangster or a drug lord.
Especially the testimonies of the Umphakathi young men (ex-addicts) were very effective as the children could relate to that, seeing a living example of someone coming from their circumstances, but having been helped.
It was heart-breaking to see the situation in the Cape Flats. Those children are in desperat need. But it is important that we reach the parents as well. Smoking, drugs, porn and alcohol has become a way of living, part of their culture. They are bound in their communities. We could speak to the children, warning them of all these dangers they are exposed to. For many of the children, it was the first time to hear that there is a solution. Many children came with their problems, speaking about the drug problems at home, parents that are divorced and many being abused daily by family members.