One consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures to contain it has been a significant increase in mental illness and substance use. Many young people who are unemployed or out of school have turned to dangerous drugs such as mandrax and nyaope. There is very little help available to rehabilitate them. Anthony Mafela, a former drug user and homeless writer, gives a first-hand account of the dangers young people face in marginalised communities.
I stay in Fleurhof on the West Rand. It's a mine-dump area close to an informal settlement. Not far away, zama-zamas dig for gold and people are still living on the abandoned mining compound.
Since the pandemic started there are more and more people building shacks around our area. I notice a new shack every time I go to the shops. Most people around here are unemployed and young boys and men sit around the hostel gambling all day.
I'm a block leader in our flats. So if there's something to fix or talk about I'm the one who will call the meeting. Or if someone has a problem in their flat, they often call me.
Pule stays opposite my flat. He used to attend Florida...