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
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