Rehab ‘explosion’ as youth switch on to tik

USE of the debilitating drug tik has exploded in Nelson Mandela Bay, with experts saying it has become the drug of choice among youth due to its availability and affordability.

While there are no official statistics on the severity of the problem, Shepherd‘s Field Rehabilitation Centre outside Port Elizabeth reports that tik addicts now account for 57 per cent of its patients.

And the SA National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) in Port Elizabeth said its number of addicts on tik had more than doubled in the last six months.

As the second cheapest drug on the streets after dagga, tik has saturated the city‘s poorest communities.

The drug can get a buyer a “high” for just R20, but experts warn it causes parts of the brain to “dissolve” after prolonged use.

Tik is made up primarily of crystal methamphetamine, but can also include a number of household products such as anti-freeze, slimming drugs, rat poison and household cleaning products.

Sanca information, training and education co-ordinator Zarina Ghulam said the drug had infiltrated the northern areas of Port Elizabeth specifically and that the number of users was growing rapidly.

“From July to December last year, we‘ve seen a huge jump of tik users coming to us for treatment.

“It went from 3,1% to 7,2% in those six months. Although we do not have the latest figures available for the last couple of months, I can definitely say the numbers are growing rapidly.

“The majority of the people who come to us for tik abuse are from the northern areas and it‘s moving to Uitenhage.”

Tik was first identified as a potential problem in the Bay two years ago when gangsters were being paid for poached perlemoen with tik by Cape Town crime barons.

Shepherd‘s Field chief executive Gerrie Cronje said the number of tik users at their centre accounted for 57% of people admitted for substance abuse.

Although a number of these addicts came from Cape Town, the majority were from the Nelson Mandela Bay area.

Reinhardt Coetsee, director of Rei‘s Place House of Recovery at Greenbushes in Port Elizabeth, said it was evident that tik was a fast growing problem in the city.

“Although it hasn‘t hit PE as bad as Cape Town, it is definitely a major concern and the problem is escalating.”

Humewood Community Police Forum chairman John Preller said the number of tik users attending his group meetings was increasing.

“We‘re definitely seeing an upward trend. Numbers are increasing drastically and the alarming thing is that it is younger people between the ages of 18 and 25.

“Tik has found its way to PE from Cape Town and we can no longer say it‘s coming, because it‘s here, and it‘s growing.

“The scary thing is that people only seek help when their lives become unmanageable, when the problem is at its worst.”

Aaron Liddell, a recovering tik addict at Shepherd‘s Field, said he was able to buy tik on nearly every street corner as it was so freely available.

“I can get it from the guy down the street or go to any of the coloured areas and buy it. It‘s everywhere. It‘s even in schools and prisons.”

Ghulam said it had devastating long-term effects on the body, although tik users were often swindled by the initial feelings of euphoria, increased energy and self-confidence.

“One client who came in for treatment ended up in hospital. They discovered he had holes in his brain because of the tik and he had to have two brain surgeries. They couldn‘t do anything to repair his brain, so he died.”

She said tik users were prone to HIV/Aids because the drug heightened arousal, which could lead to high-risk sexual behaviour.

Preller said it caused extreme aggression, which often led to uncontrollable violence. “Just recently, I heard from a parent who said her son beat her because of his tik aggression,” he added.

Preller said some of the permanent effects of the toxic drug were that it dissolved the teeth and areas of the brain.

Substance abuse in the northern areas was one of the main reasons for the disintegration of families and gangsterism there, he said.

Tik addiction also had a drastic effect on the economy, and on families, said Preller, with addicts ultimately losing jobs and homes torn apart.

“With tik, they lose their ability to think straight and they end up getting fired.

“Shortly after that they‘ll start breaking into houses or hijacking cars to get money to buy more drugs and most of the time end up in jail.

“You end up losing a strong productive person in the economy, and if you multiply that by the thousands of tik users we see, it results in the loss of thousands of productive people in the economy.”

Source : The Weekend Post

Eastern Cape land reform farms mired in debt, infighting

by Sipho Masondo HERALD REPORTER masondos@avusa.co.za

DAVID UITHALER, farmerMORE land reform farms in the Eastern Cape have failed due to infighting and lack of capital and skills. Two weeks ago The Herald reported that several farms in the Addo area had failed and were auctioned off, and a new investigation has highlighted problems in the Gamtoos valley area.

The aim of land reform is to transfer 30 per cent of agricultural land to the previously disadvantaged over the next 15 years. This is done by grouping people together and giving then grants to purchase farms.

In the Cacadu region alone 90000ha of land has been distributed to more than 12000 beneficiaries at a cost of more than R370-million.

The latest farms to run into problems include:

In the Uitenhage area last year 22 beneficiaries auctioned their 674ha farm for about R1,1-million because they couldn‘t continue farming any more. The group owed the Land Bank about R400000, which with interest had escalated to about R600000.

Another set of 12 beneficiaries, the Hlanganani Trust from Motherwell, sold off its farm of 70ha for about R650000 in 2007 to a white farmer.

In Hankey the Peter Family Trust, with 10 beneficiaries, were last month rescued by the South African Fruit Exporters after the Land Bank threatened to auction the farm to recoup money it had loaned them in 2000. This was the second time the Land Bank had threatened to auction the farm.

The 36ha farm has no electricity or farming implements, and citrus trees are dying.

The 42 Dankbaar Farm beneficiaries in Hankey are having similar problems. Workers haven‘t been paid since January. There is no electricity on the 256ha farm, meaning citrus trees cannot be watered. Beneficiaries have accused each other of misappropriating funds. White farmers in the area are said to have expressed interest in buying the farm.

In Patensie a group of 200 beneficiaries have leased out 35ha of their 300ha farm to a white farmer to prevent the farm from going under. In 2006 Patensie Citrus rescued the group when the land bank threatened to auction the farm because of a R1,2-million loan it couldn‘t service.

David Uithaler, leader of 22 beneficiaries from Uitenhage of a farm which was auctioned, said: “I stayed at the farm for four years but I couldn‘t cope. We didn‘t have money to take the farm forward. We are very anxious to get farms, but you must have money to run them. My purpose was to produce food to feed the country, but if you don‘t have money you can‘t live up to the idea.”

Hazel Peter of the Peter Family Trust said they had decided to go into a joint venture with the South African Fruit Exporters which has promised to revive the farm and bring it to production.

But this will be at the expense of dividends in the next two years.

“We just want our farm to be saved,” she said, adding that the were also conflicts between the beneficiaries.

A land affairs department official said he would have liked to see more success with land reform. “It‘s not doing well. We need more support for these projects. We distribute land but we also try to help with technical skills and this is not our responsibility, but that of the department of agriculture.”

Department of agriculture spokesman Fikile Black said emerging farmers should approach the district offices and request assistance, which was subject to the availability of funds.

“We also have extension officers who assist farmers with skills.”

source: Weekend Post

KwaNobuhle farm taking off

by Sipho Masondo HERALD REPORTER masondos@avusa.co.za

Uitenhage KwaNobuhle farmersTHERE is a sweet smell of success about a project in Uitenhage that was started to help alleviate the misery of a group of impoverished people – it is now helping to add flavour to German cuisine

While many farms have failed under the government‘s land reform programme, the Uitenhage-KwaNobuhle Farm community project is providing shelter, food and a steady income for its 55 beneficiaries.

Administrative manager Mlamleli Maseti said failure was not an option for the group.

Besides supplying Port Elizabeth export company Dynamic Commodities with sweet baby peppers, the beneficiaries pride themselves on having developed the 38ha farm into a productive operation.

They supply retailers like the Fruit and Veg and Spar groups, BC Brothers and the Uitenhage and Motherwell markets, as well as hawkers, with fresh vegetables like cabbage, spinach, carrots, green beans and beetroot.

Maseti said the secret to making the farm work was listening to the people. “You can‘t make it without the people. When we started in early 2003 the land was bare. There will always be ups and downs where many people are involved because they bring different minds and backgrounds. But we constantly remind them about the purpose of coming together. It‘s about teamwork and having a good support system.”

Maseti said Dynamic Commodities supplied the farm with sweet baby pepper seedlings, which are planted on 10ha. “The produce that we export is huge and the profit is very good. We get about R4 for 1kg, and we are looking at more than 15 tons a hectare. The sweet baby peppers are ripe and we started harvesting last week. This is agriculture and we do experience ups and downs, but generally we are doing well.”

However, he said the crop had not done quite as well last year, when it was piloted for the first time on 5ha after they had entered into an agreement with Dynamic Commodities.

“It was trial and error last year. In the end we managed to break even – we made a little profit. We made mistakes but we have learned.”

Maseti said the farm employed about 50 permanent staff, which escalated to more than 200 people during harvesting season.

He said the farm‘s success was due to the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, which leases the land to the group, and to other role players like the Uitenhage-Dispatch Development Initiative, VWSA and the Eastern Cape agriculture department, which assisted in various ways.

VWSA donated about R3- million, which the farm accesses in stages. The agriculture department assisted with farming implements, including a tractor, fencing and irrigation infrastructure, while UDDI provided project management expertise.

UDDI project manager Sandile Adam said the farm was divided into two phases. The 20ha first phase is for conventional farming of vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, sweet baby peppers, spinach and beetroot, under drip irrigation.

Phase2 involves organic and greenhouse farming. “We will have high-value crops like tomatoes and cucumbers in greenhouses on about 18ha. We are already putting up fencing and irrigation systems.”