Swaziland
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‘ABOUT 14 000 EMASWATI USE COCAINE’

MBABANE – About 14 000 emaSwati are said to be using cocaine.

Phephile Sukati, a Clinical Psychologist, said the increasing statistics of people abusing various drugs in the country was frustrating. Sukati said the current figures were based on a recent report released in January 2023 after a research had been conducted. She said it could not be established whether the figures showed a decline or increase. “We have seen people coming to the psychiatric centre seeking help, especially those having issues with cannabis addiction. We are also seeing people coming to us daily seeking help on how to come out of cocaine usage,” said Sukati.

Addicted

She stated that they had also been helping emaSwati who were addicted to alcohol, some of whom had lost their jobs due to the addiction. According to the clinical psychologist, some alcohol addicts end up absenting themselves from work to imbibe alcohol. She said such addicts eventually suffered from a health condition called ‘alcohol disorder’. According to Sukati, teenagers were the main users of cannabis due to peer pressure they faced, especially in schools. She said most of them were introduced by their peers to drug usage. She pointed out that they gathered such information during their visit to schools to ask pupils why they used drugs and the kind of drugs they used the most. “On the other hand, the grown up population in the country had been found to be the main users of alcohol and other drugs such as mandrax. We have found that depression leads them to using drugs. Some are stressed by family issues and, therefore, try to use drugs as a coping mechanism,” she narrated.

Sukati said they were also assisting drug users anytime they came seeking help. She said some ended up being admitted to the psychiatric centre, with the intention to undergo detoxication of substances and further engage in psychotherapy. The clinical psychologist was responding to questions on what they were doing to assist drug users.“Some undergo counselling sessions when they come to the hospital. This is done after an assessment has been made, based on some observations on the possibility that the addict was likely to relapse. “We do the counselling just to motivate that individual to stop taking drugs. We also refer some to rehabilitation base centres, where they attend until they totally come out of drug usage,” she alluded. Sukati then encouraged emaSwati to attend to all challenges they faced in a proper manner rather than taking drugs as a solution. She said drugs were only a temporary remedy to the problem they faced. She said people must not act based on what they felt at that moment.

On what could be done to eliminate drug abuse, she said: “They need to get proper interventions, proper care and treatment to the problems they face. We also plead with parents to ensure that they monitor any changes happening to the children. They must also talk about drug abuse issues in their family structures,” she pleaded. Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati said the transportation and usage of drugs affected the country immensely. “The youth usually start stealing items with the aim of raising money to buy the drugs since they don’t have enough money to buy them. They steal items at home and then sell them in order to buy the drugs,” said Vilakati.The police spokesperson said some of the teenagers who used drugs ended up being mentally disturbed, resulting in some being taken to hospital for medical help. She indicated that some, due to the prolonged drug usage, became violent to the extent of committing offences related to malicious injury to property.In terms of drug smugglers, Vilakati said it was still illegal to do such. She said they had observed that gang wars were associated with drug transportation, resulting in infightings and murders.

Common

“The common drugs in the country are heroine, mandrax and dagga. We usually conduct raids after getting leads from our intelligence. In some cases, we raid once we see an increase in certain offences in a particular area. We then immediately start operations related to the problem affecting that particular area as per results in our tables. Some had been arrested for drug-related issues. For instance, someone was arrested for unlawful possession of 290 grammes of mandrix, while another found with 930 kilogrammes of dagga in one family,” stated Vilakati. She then encouraged emaSwati to take the affected individuals to the anti-drug department of the nearest police station for counselling. She said, at times, they referred drug users for therapy.According to Vilakati, drugs such as cocaine, mandrax were smuggled into the country from other countries even though there were those individuals who seemed capable of illegally producing such drugs locally.“The kind of drug we are familiar with in the country is dagga, while the rest come from other countries. Some of the individuals arrested while in the possession of illegal drugs such as cocaine and mandrax are foreign nationals,” she explained.