Pretoria, 20 June 2023: After working for many years practising as so therapists and implementing the policy on alcohol and other drugs, therapists of the department for the first time were exposed and taught about the different drugs available on the market.
The department is trying to equip its therapist with every knowledge and be able to assist families on how to identify drugs.
The intention of the visit was to strengthen collaboration between departments to effectively fight the scourge of drugs in communities.
On the second day of the national drug awareness week, the social workers visited the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory in Pretoria.
The forensic Science Laboratory is responsible for conducting drug research, analysis, testing, and the destruction of drug samples after cases are concluded by the courts.
It also assists countries within the Southern African Development Communities (SADC) region with research, analysis and testing of drugs as some of these countries do not have capacity to do this work.
Presenting about the work of the laboratory, Colonel Tshepo Shole said that the laboratory has a chemistry section that conducts different types of analysis, including, amongst others, drug analysis, poison investigation and liquor analysis.
Colonel Shole highlighted that the work of the laboratory is regulated by the South African Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Act 51/77, Drug Trafficking Act, 140/91 and Medicines and Related Substance Act 101/65.
The laboratory follows the ISO 17025 Quality Management System to ensure that it complies with international standards.
Between the years, 2003 and 2022, there has been a significant increase of drug analysis from 12 025 to 137 831.
Colonel Shole said this showed that there was a serious challenge of drugs in the country.
Siza Magangoe, Chief Director: Substance Abuse and Social Crime Prevention stated that a partnership with the Science Laboratory and other partners will assist the department to make a meaningful impact during engagements with communities. She said sometimes drugs are in the house and parents are unable to identify them due to lack of knowledge.
It becomes a further challenge when social workers themselves cannot identify them.
Ms Motshabi Nkwane, Social Work Policy Manager in the department highlighted that she learnt about all internal processes that are followed before a suspect is sentenced for drug related crimes.
Ms Magangoe said the department was looking forward to working with the laboratory in the fight against substance abuse.
She further called upon South Africans to be careful not to discriminate people and families who are affected by drugs.
“For an example, calling our children nyaope boys is not assisting in the fight against drugs. We need to use better language too especially when we refer to children,” said Ms Magangoe.
The national drug awareness week continues today and will host community dialogues in Toekomsrus, West Rand area.
The dialogues which also form part of youth month, will not only afford community members an opportunity to engage with the department about substance abuse, but also to strengthen relations between both the department and the people.
The department will on 26 June commemorate the annual International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking under the theme: “People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention”.
Aligned with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Agency Network for Demand Reduction, Drug Control, and Crime Prevention, this day aims to prioritize people's well-being and reduce stigma associated with drug abuse.
Members of the media are invited to attend and cover the dialogues planned as follows:
Date: Wednesday, 21 June 2023
Venue: 576 Corner Apple and Jukskei River Street, Carry You Ministry in Toekomsrus, West Rand, Gauteng Province
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT