Lenasia’s endless drug nightmare
Community at wits’ end over evil scourge
FATHIMA Odendaal wishes her husband would overdose on drugs and die. For over a decade, the 38-year-old Lenasia resident has been in an abusive marriage with her drug-addicted husband.
He beats her, swears at her and steals her hard-ear ned money. She has had enough. “I always tell him, ‘if you’re taking two rocks (crack cocaine), buy three so that you can die quicker’,” says Odendaal, her voice rising with anger, her eyes bloodshot.
But her husband is not her only worry. Most of her relatives here in Lenasia Ext 2 are drug addicts, too. Her brother can’t live without mandrax and heroin, and is now mentally unstable, while her sons have turned to drugs as well.
Her father died “a year or two back” from drug abuse. “My own kids are stealing from my home to feed their habit. It’s terrible. And the worst thing is, you can’t even tell them anything because then they become rude and violent and beat you up.
Not only does Odendaal encounter addicts in her own home every day, but they’re a common sight on the street she lives on: Gladioli Avenue, which has been infested with drug dealers and junkies, all her life.
C o mmuni t y a c t iv i s t s describe it as Lenasia’s most notorious street.
“You can say there’s a drug dealer living in every second home on my street. It’s that bad,” says Odendaal.
A few years ago, she was caught in the middle of a drug war between dealers on Gladioli Avenue. “They petrol-bombed my house and I was shot at by drug dealers. My daughter was run over with a car by these animals.”
Here on Gladioli Avenue, it’s a matter of your drug of choice: crystal methamphetamine, heroin, dagga, nyaope, and Methcathinone (Cat), peddled by an array of drug dealers.
The street is dubbed Electric Avenue by locals. “It’s so simple to buy drugs here. You don’t even have to step out of your car.
“It’s like a drive-through service where you just pull up and the drugs are brought straight to you.”
Prostitution has become a problem, too. “Not only do I have to worry about my kids overdosing on bad drugs, but now I have to also worry that they may contract HIV/Aids from prostitutes.”
Other parts of the predominantly Indian community are facing similar battles.
Last week, in a joint operation, the SAPS, the JMPD and Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi raided the MH Joosub Technical Secondary in Lenasia Ext 4. There, the police arrested two learners for drug possession.
Odendaal fears for the children in her community, surrounded by drug dealers and users. “All it takes is one hit and you can get instantly hooked. If we don’t stop the rot, our entire community will be eaten up alive by drugs.”
Almost without emotion, her neighbour, Naziah Thulsie, tells how her family, too, has been torn apart by drugs.
Like Odendaal, she has lived in an abusive relationship with her drug addicted husband for 11 years. Recently, he checked into rehab.
Living with a drug addict is a “nightmare”, she says. “When my husband got moody he took it out on me and my children. He would beat me up for absolutely no reason.
“I had to tiptoe around him and make sure I don’t bother him or make any noise, because otherwise he would take his anger out on me.”
Thulsie wouldn’t see her husband at all on weekends. “I would have a husband from Monday to Wednesday and then from Thursday, the streets would be his home.
“Sometimes he wouldn’t even sleep at home and we would only see him after a few days.”
Thulsie also fears for her children, now that drugs have become so rife in Lenasia’s primary and high schools.
“As parents all we can do is talk to them and give them the best possible advice. What they do out in the world is up to them. I pray and hope that my kids make the right choices in life.”
Rafia Subjoo, who also lives on Gladioli Avenue, worries about fast-rising crime in the dejected neighbourhood.
“The children in the neighbourhood are robbing homes so that they can pay for their next fix.
“I’ve seen it in my very own household, where my own nephews are taking control of the house, stealing things, hitting us, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
“They’re even stealing dogs from the neighbourhood to pay for the next fix. They’ll steal anything and couldn’t care less.”
Like most of her neighbours, Subjoo is fed up. For years they’ve battled to make Gladioli Avenue a drug free zone, without success.
“We hold meetings, we protest. We’ve tried to get the police involved, but nothing fruitful has come from it,” she says, frustrated.
Odendaal claims that drug dealers are paying off local police. “Every week we see police vehicles pulling up to the drug dealers homes to collect money. We’re not silly. We see exactly what’s going on.
“The police know exactly where the drugs are being sold, so why aren’t any arrests been made?” she asks.
Despite numerous attempts, the police did not respond this week. “The only way we can get rid of drugs in this area is if we start with our police stations. The reason why drugs are so rife in this area is because the police are on the drug dealers pay rolls. It’s like we’re being left to the dogs and nobody cares about us.”
Odendaal is ready to take the law in to her own hands as police have done nothing to tackle the scourge in her com- munity.
She speaks admiringly of the hundreds of Rosettenville residents who last week, set fire to four houses and looted a tavern which they believed were contributing to the rampant drug and prostitution problem in the area.
“I watched what happened in Rosettenville and I think I’m ready to do the same if it means it will help kick drug dealers out of this community.