Cannabis is ruining the lives of many young people at the small village of Berseba, but the curious thing is that women in the community are the ones selling it, locals say.
Residents report that the frequent use of cannabis – colloquially known as ‘dagga’ – especially among young people of school-going age is a huge concern, as it is destroying the lives of many and affecting their friends and family members negatively.
With her own son addicted to dagga, 64-year old Helena Stein is one of the concerned elders at the village that is fighting to get rid of this evil in the community.
It was hard to ignore the pain in her voice as she talked of her son’s use of cannabis during a public meeting with members of the National Council Women Caucus led by chairperson of the National Council Margaret Mensah-Williams.
She narrated how cannabis use turned her 19-year-old son from a well-mannered and smart boy to a drunkard and drug addict that terrorises the community. “My child is using it and it pains me a lot, but where does it come from? It’s the women here that are selling it to our children,” she charged.
She said many of the users are known by community members, adding that some are women, while some male pensioners are also known to use and sell cannabis.
She told New Era that her son is highly gifted and used to perform exceptionally well at school, but this changed after he started using drugs. He subsequently became troublesome, she said, which led to his suspension from school.
Stein added that despite being on suspension, her son – who was a Grade 10 learner last year – managed to get 20 points. She wakes up every day wondering what could have been if he was not suspended, stressing that even teachers believe he could have performed better if he had stayed away from drugs.
“It’s very painful for me, as he is very clever and could have been the breadwinner for the family in future,” she said of her son, who now just sits at home doing nothing.
As if the pain were not enough for a mother, Stein said her troubled son often terrorises people and she is often called in the middle of the night to fetch him from drinking spots, where he would get into fights with others.
She said household items are not safe anymore either, as he steals and sells them to support his habit. She said she is about to lose all hope, because the drug problem in the community is going on unabated, despite various attempts to curb it.
“Sometimes we report these cases. One woman was even arrested and jailed, but she got out and continues to sell dagga” she said.
Many residents are concerned that the use of drugs among the youth is affecting the children’s education negatively, with some residents saying many learners have dropped out of school due to drug-related problems.