'Substance abuse destroying generations'

Helen Zille says substance abuse is, on some levels, worse than apartheid.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says substance abuse is, on some levels, worse than apartheid. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has described the province's substance abuse problem as horrific.

The premier, along with Social Development MEC Albert Fritz, was speaking at a press conference on Monday.

The Western Cape is known for having some of the highest levels of drug and alcohol abuse in the country.

Zille said R87 million has been set aside for substance abuse interventions this year.

She said that drug peddlers are no longer just operating solely in urban areas anymore.

"Previously the drugs had not hit the rural areas as much, but I'm afraid now they're everywhere. There is no place where dealers can't reach."

She said substance abuse is, on some levels, worse than apartheid.

"Our crisis of substance abuse is harming another generation of young people, worse than what apartheid did to their forefathers because apartheid didn't incapacitate people, it mobilised people."

Zille went on to say should the Democratic Alliance (DA) stay in power, they would invest about half a billion rand into substance abuse services over the next five years.

She said their budget for substance abuse interventions doubled over the past few years.

"The Department of Social Development has funded 31 NGOs to render services in early intervention because we feel that if we can catch youngsters when they're just starting to experiment, it's much easier for them to turn around their behaviour than it is when they become addicted."

Meanwhile, the Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre recently said 60 percent of their clients use tik.

The drug is cheap and easily accessible. However, heroin and dagga use are also on the rise in the province.