The opening of the Eldorado Park Community Based Substance Abuse Treatment Centre will strengthen the community’s ability to combat drug use.
The city of Johannesburg officially opened the centre which forms part of the Eldorado Park Extension 9 Clinic in Boundary Road. It is the second of five free centres that will be set up by the city this year. The first was opened in Tladi, Soweto, in February. A further three centres will be rolled out in Westbury, Riverpark and Joubert Park clinics later in the year.
The opening was headed by Mayor Herman Mashaba and Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Health and Social Development, Dr Mpho Phalatse. They were joined by supporting stakeholders the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), NGOs, religious organisations and community members.
Eldorado Park has been plagued by ills related to substance abuse and addiction for years. The centre would offer intervention, treatment and reintegration programmes to those in need.
Eldorado Park Ward 17 Councillor Peter Rafferty said the city had heeded the community’s cry for help.
“The area is a disadvantaged one, and there is a dire need for such facilities. People in the community have said that they do not need money to take a taxi and go out to get help now. This is a centre they can access on their doorstep for free, and they appreciate it, they value having something that is here for all of them,” he said.
Rafferty said the centre would take a multidisciplinary approach to helping the community.
“The centre has a medical component, counselling with psychologists and social workers, aftercare treatment and outpatient programmes for those battling substance abuse and their families. But it will also handle an economic development component that will allow job seekers, unemployed matriculants and school drop-outs to gain skills and find job placements at centre. It is for anyone wondering, “How do I turn my life around?””
The area faces list of challenges, including alcohol abuse, cannabis, tik and nyaope.
“In recent years we have a seen problem with drug dealers targeting youth at primary schools. It is a dire situation but people are encouraged by the presence of the centre and the police,” he said.
The JMPD and other law enforcement agencies are going to clamp down on the supply of drugs while it hopes to increase the arrest of drug dealers and what is known as ‘runners’ or those who physically deliver the drugs.
“During the programme today, a drug dealer was arrested just outside the centre in possession of drugs. This goes to show how much we need the JMPD to ensure that people are safe in approaching the centre and not threatened by drug dealers in the surrounding area,” said Rafferty.
Various organisations in the community, such as the local drug action committee and SANCA, had offered their support to ensure the facility becomes a centre of excellence.
Mayor Mashaba said the city had launched its war on drugs through the Integrated Substance Abuse Strategy in 2017, and through the Department of Health and Social Development it would see the roll-out of 33 outpatient rehabilitation facilities.
“The approach taken will look into the entire chain of substance abuse to ensure addicts recover holistically and we will be working closely with the relevant departments to limit chances of relapse. Institutionalization should be viewed as a last resort,” he said.
“The City’s Health and Social Development officials will work towards strengthening their working relationships with individuals, families and communities. It is imperative for us to unite in ridding our communities of drugs. For that to happen, we must speak out and find new ways to achieve economic upliftment,” the Mayor stressed.