Re­cov­er­ing ad­dicts to pro­tect pupils from dan­gers of drugs and deal­ers

The Sunday Independent - - METRO - MANYANE MANYANE

RE­COV­ER­ING Soweto drug ad­dicts have re­newed their pledge to pro­mote safety in their com­mu­nity by taking part in a Mak­ing Com­mu­nity Safety for Chil­dren pro­gramme. A group of young peo­ple were this week in­vited by a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion to par­tic­i­pate in an ini­tia­tive sup­ported by Ned­bank, school prin­ci­pals, the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity.

The pro­gramme was ini­ti­ated by Ranyaka Com­mu­nity Trans­for­ma­tion fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent at AB Xuma Pri­mary School where 87 pupils were sex­u­ally mo­lested last year.

Gaut­eng ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment spokesper­son Steve Mabona wel­comed the ini­tia­tive, urg­ing par­ents to “par­tic­i­pate in pro­grammes that will as­sist learn­ers to be taught in a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment”.

“I’m happy to be part of this pro­gramme al­though I’m still strug­gling to re­cover from my habits. I want to make sure that this pro­gramme will pro­duce a clean en­vi­ron­ment in Or­lando and other parts of Soweto,” said El­iz­a­beth Masilo, 27.

Masilo said she wanted to see chil­dren choose a dif­fer­ent path, grow up in a good en­vi­ron­ment and re­alise their po­ten­tial at an early stage. “I want to see them not get­ting in­volved in drugs. I am happy to be part of this be­cause I will also pro­tect chil­dren from drug deal­ers. The rea­son many chil­dren are raped and abused is be­cause of drugs.”

Masilo’s friend, Wendy Xaba, also sup­ported the pro­gramme. “I think this pro­gramme is help­ful and I wish young peo­ple can also at­tend. This should not only be about el­ders. I be­lieve most of us (youth) will get help through this pro­gramme.”

A leader of the 1976 Soweto upris­ing, Seth Maz­ibuko, said the pro­gramme went beyond the AB Xuma in­ci­dent. “It’s not about the fail­ure of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and par­ents, but ev­ery­one in the com­mu­nity. The schools be­long to ev­ery­one... We also had a dis­cus­sion with chil­dren from var­i­ous schools to iden­tify places where they feel un­safe. One of the places they iden­ti­fied was the drug dens and that is why we in­vited the re­cov­er­ing drug ad­dicts to pro­tect th­ese chil­dren.”

Ler­a­tong Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Sun­ny­boy Ramok­go­b­athe said the ini­tia­tive was im­por­tant to make the safety of pupils the main pri­or­ity. “Most kids have to pass dan­ger­ous ar­eas when com­ing to school, and their safety is com­pro­mised,” he said.

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