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World Drug Day: SA anti-drug body laments ‘underage drinking’ after mystery tavern death of 21 teens

Following the recent mysterious death of 21 teenagers at an Eastern Cape tavern, Gauteng-based anti-drug NPO, World Changers Candidates, has called for stricter policies to address drug and alcohol dependency among young people during its annual World Drug Day gathering in Leondale, East of Johannesburg.

Gauteng-based anti-drug lobby group, World Changers Candidates, has called for stricter policies to address drug dependency among young people, this as the country bemoans the devastating death of 21 pupils who died mysteriously at Enyobeni Tavern in the Eastern Cape.

Addressing guests during a special gathering held at Themba Le Njabulo Guest House in Leondale to observe the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, also known as World Drug Day, World Changers Candidates’ Chairperson Lucas Mahlakgane was particularly pained as he spoke about the tragedy of the deceased 21 youngsters.

Citing a rise in the prevalence of binge drinking and heavy alcohol use among adolescents – with stats (according to showing that young people from as young as 13 years of age (which is illegal) are in fact drinking – Mahlakgane said more efforts needs to be amped-up to ensure a substance-free and safer environment for South African communities.

World Changers: Leondale Secondary School learners Katlego Mabena (far left) and Nceba Ngwenya (second right), joined by WCC Chairperson Lucas Mahlakgane and MC Gift Sebiloane as they unpacked solutions to reduce drug abuse in youth and adults.

“As we’re observing the International Day Against Drugs Abuse and Illicit Substance Abuse (also known as World Drug Day), it’s sad that news broke out about young 21 young people who were found dead at a popular township tavern in East London,” he said adding: “How sad that it happens at the time the World Changers Candidates were trying to highlight the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse in our communities, especially among adolescents. This also happens on the day that learners from Leondale Secondary School who were part of the so called ‘dagga video’ were celebrating 2 months and 6 days, saying that was the last time since they’ve had drugs in their hands.”

This, he said, is prove that drug use prevention programmes are effective not only when they respond to the needs of the affected communities, and relevant sectors. As history has taught us, effective prevention programmes should also incorporate strong monitoring and evaluation elements.

“As World Changers Candidates, we’re excited to see the envisaged change that our programmes is making in the lives of young people. We wish we could have more young people joining our programmes as we work tirelessly in line with our motto to ‘Change The World One Soul at a Time’. We believe that the two young learners from Leondale Secondary School (Nceba Ngwenya and Katlego Mabena) will lead by an example as they will be extending the programme onto the school.”

Sifungosethu’s Phumela Memani addressing attendees.

However, he said he’s saddened that in a country like South Africa where drugs are so rife, the day (International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking) is not observed as a crucial day. “We wish that on a day like this, citizens could be up in arms, taking the fight against this monster called drugs into their own hands and demand invention from the powers that be, that can be able to stop this.”

The annual gathering was attended and supported by local stakeholders, including World Changers Candidates longtime sponsor Banareng Office Suppliers, Mahlangu Productions, Zondo Brothers Funeral Services, NOWinSA as media partner and Mangako Beauty Academy (as shown in the above YouTube video).

Local NPOs, Sifunfosethu, an organisation committed to promoting the empowerment, welfare and social justice of every boy child, as well as Sekuma Sakhe Development, a non-profit organisation which focuses on community upliftment, along with Women Alive Soul Healing International partnered with WCC to ensure this year’s programme, which formed part of the organisation’s multi-faceted Youth Month programme, is an all-round success.

Click the link below to see how the World Changers Candidates’ programmes, as covered by SA’s leading 24-hour news channel, SABC News, are positively impacting lives.

Tankiso Komane
Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.
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