KZN Social Development department woefully ill-prepared to deal with drug scourge

Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Social Development

KwaZulu-Natal’s Social Development department is woefully ill-prepared to deal with the drug scourge within the province’s communities with only three government-run drug rehabilitation treatment centres and a total capacity of just 134 in-patients.

Current departmental protocol states an interview waiting time of 2 weeks and admission waiting time of 6 weeks.  Yet frontline social workers confirm that the current waiting time for admission is anything from 6 months to 2 years due to the high number of drug addicts requesting treatment and the lack of patient capacity within the province.

Non-government organisations (NGO’s) in KZN face a similar situation with an in-patient treatment capacity of 84 patients and are severely unfunded and lack proper support.

The information forms the basis of an August 2014 parliamentary reply by KZN Social Development MEC, Weziwe Thusi to questions posed by the DA in the provincial legislature.

KZN suffers a unique drug burden with Whoonga and Sugars requiring intensive medical and psychological treatment. These drugs affect the youth in our poorest communities the hardest who must then rely on state-run facilities since they cannot afford private treatment.

According to the reply, the Department’s current plans will only increase patient capacity at Madadeni and Khanyani Treatment centres by 104 in-patient beds. There are no capacity increases at Newlands Park in Durban which faces the largest drug burden.

By contrast, the Western Cape increased its number of treatment centres from 7 to 24 between 2008 and 2014.  In-patient capacity in the province also went from 3000 to 5000 while the City of Cape Town Metro now has 5 of its own out-patient treatment centres.

The DA calls on MEC Thusi and her HOD to urgently present a revised strategy aimed at increasing both the number of centres and in-patient facilities, particularly in Durban, to the KZN social development portfolio committee.  The current plan is completely inadequate.