South Africa: Weed, Tik Gateway Drugs for Youngsters, Boys' Assembly Hears

Cannabis and crystal meth (commonly known as tik) are popular drugs of choice that are easily accessible and affordable for youngsters, a Boys' Assembly held in Limpopo has heard.

Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu addressed the assembly, which was held in conjunction with Social Development and the South African National Aids Council (SANAC) Men's Sector in Seshego, Limpopo, on Sunday. The dialogue was held as the department and the Central Drug Authority (CDA) prepare to host the International Conference on Substance Abuse and Family Related Interventions from 31 October - 2 November 2019.

Youth at the dialogue reported that they started using drugs out of curiosity and peer pressure to fit in with friends.

"As a result of the early experimentation, some of the young boys reported that they got addicted to cannabis and tik at an early age, resulting in mental health issues, dropping out and being expelled from school, while others reported difficult relationships with their families," Social Development said in a statement.

As a result of the early experimentation, the department said, some of the young boys reported that they got addicted to cannabis and tik at an early age, resulting in mental health issues, dropping out and being expelled from school while others reported difficult relationships with their families.

Frans Mothiba, an 18-year-old from Seshego, a township of the City of Polokwane in Limpopo, spoke out candidly about his addiction to cannabis.

"Cannabis is readily available and cheaper in our village and some learners are selling it at school. When I first started with my friends a few years ago, it was simply out of curiosity and we regarded it as a rite of passage of growing up but I soon realised that I cannot spend a day without a fix.

"Soon I spiralled out of control and started having problems with my teachers, as I spent most of my time at school at the boy's toilets and my performance deteriorated. I was finally expelled from school and I am now trying to rebuild my life," Mothiba said.

When asked about the Constitutional Court's recent ruling that possession, cultivation and personal use of cannabis is not a criminal offence, many of the youngsters reported that they had started using it long before due to close family members' use of cannabis in their presence.

The Boys' Assembly brought together 500 boys between 14 and 24 years from Mopani, Vhembe, Capricorn, Waterberg and Sekhukhune districts of the Limpopo Province. The Boys Assembly is part of the Takuwani Riime Men's Movement that supports the Boys Championing Change Programme.

The department said the initiatives are anchored in the belief that achieving gender equality is about transforming unequal power and gender relations between men and women, as well as challenging notions of masculinity and traditional perceptions of manhood and what defines a man.

"This is done through open and non-judgmental dialogues with men and boys in all 52 districts throughout the country," the department said.

The District Men's Parliament is scheduled to take place today in Modimolle and targets men in the religious sector and traditional leadership positions to have a frank discussION on how some cultural/traditional and religious practices perpetuates the subjugation of women and girls and gender-based violence.

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