No one should suffer at the hands of rehab centres

The gruesome incident where 70 drug

addicts were rescued at an illegally operating rehabilitation centre in

Polokwane, Limpopo has raised alarms that these kinds of centres keep mushrooming

in South Africa.

As a concerned citizen and an activist in

the fight against drug abuse, I remain deeply worried that our young people are

being tortured and robbed of their future at the hands of illegal

rehabilitation centres and halfway houses.

This incident, therefore raises a spark

that government should intensify its efforts to work with communities and civil

society organisations to ensure that such facilities are encouraged to register

with the Department of Social Development, and those that do not comply are

strictly shut down.

It is extremely disturbing to note that

many of the owners running illegal treatment centres only approach government

when medical aid schemes reject their claims as they are not licensed to

operate or when they are not recommended for funding.

Therefore, one can only conclude that the

owners of these facilities are mainly driven by greed and desire to enrich

themselves at the expense of ordinary citizens who may not be aware that they

are indeed putting their lives in danger by using illegally operating


A Social Work Manager at the Gauteng

Department of Social Development who is responsible for Substance Abuse

Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation, Ms Desary Carlinsky says The

Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependency Act 20 of 1992 is very clear on

this matter.

The Act stipulates that no person shall

manage any institution or other place maintained mainly for the accommodation

and care of persons who are dependent on drugs or in which such persons receive

physical, psychological, spiritual or social treatment, unless such institution

or place is registered under this section, says Carlinsky.

She added that whilst the Act is clear that

no person shall operate an unregistered treatment centre, it is difficult to

identify and close these facilities once they start operating. Carlinsky says

the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) has since 03 December 2019 to date,

shut down seventeen (17) illegally operating rehabilitation centres. This means

that hundreds of young people were rescued from this debacle.

It has come of the attention of the

Gauteng DSD that a number of treatment centres and halfway houses are still

being established without being registered in terms of the above mentioned Act.

It must be noted that unregistered treatment facilities operating illegally could

be prosecuted. No treatment facility or halfway house should open its doors

before registration by the Department in terms of the Act, she added.

Anyone who requires assistance to register

for such a facility can obtain application forms at any office of the Provincial

Department of Social Development and criteria for registration will be


Should any residential facility neglect to

apply for registration; legal action will be taken and such facilities will be


Source: Gauteng Province