Recovering addicts to protect pupils from dangers of drugs and dealers
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.