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City launches SA network of people who use drugs
SANPUD launch
Social Development Month ended on a high note with the launch of the South African Network of People who Use Drugs (SANPUD) organisation and the opening of Bellhaven Memorial Hall as a drug rehabilitation centre for drug users.

The launch was held at the Bellhaven Memorial Hall in Greyville on 28 October.

Deputy Minister of Social Development Hendrieta Bogopane-Zulu, who is a champion of this initiative, delivered a keynote address where she pleaded with the private sector and entrepreneurs to support people using drugs by empowering them with skills and offering employment opportunities.

“Today we launch SANPUD because we believe in the principle of a people-centred response. Over the years of extensive research and consultations with various sectors and individuals on the ground, we have learned that devising prevention and treatment action is not a proper solution if the users themselves are voiceless,” she said.

She added that elevating the voice of people who use drugs, will allow them to develop effective strategies.

“The aim of the organisation and such centres is to give a platform to drug users to lead the way. Rehabilitation will make sense if you are counselled by the ones who have walked the journey,” she said.
Minister Bogopane-Zulu concluded her address by reading a message from former President of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe, who is now a Commissioner on global drug policy.

“Former President Motlanthe said ‘the National Department of Social Development and SANPUD shows that the power of collaboration allows us to increase knowledge, sharing, expertise and efficient use of resources which affords us to take notice of people who deserve our utmost attention. Let us give a voice to the marginalised and restore humanity and dignity to all’,” she read.

MEC of Social Development in KwaZulu-Natal, Nonhlanhla Khoza said Social Development Month was a time to take stock of what has been done and highlight what should be done going forward. 

“It is heartening to know that SANPUD will make a huge change in the lives of individuals that are using drugs. Drug abuse is often associated with other social ills. The launch is based on different pillars, where each pillar indicates its strategies and where its full implementation will facilitate the transformation of lives and steer our communities towards a drug free nation as envisaged by government.”

EThekwini Deputy Mayor Councillor Belinda Scott said: “The City is proud to say that this launch is part of the second phase of the programme that started over lockdown, where over 260 young people entered into a harm reduction substance abuse programme, which was supported by the private sector and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Our shelters were the best and the successes were amazing as we managed to integrate many homeless people with their families, some secured employment while skills programme were offered at most centres.”

She said the City will continue to work in collaboration with health practitioners, social workers, NGOs, the private sector and all other stakeholders to support the Bellhaven Centre and SANPUD. 
“This is good for the City and brilliant for homeless people as it provides a place to go for the destitute and people with substance abuse problems together with their families. The centre also does screening for TB and HIV. I appeal to individuals and both the private and public sector to join in our fight against substance abuse and homelessness,” she concluded.

Zabanguni.khuzwayo@durban.gov.za

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