Does Heidedal need another drug march?

Residents of Heidedal march against substance abuse on Human Rights Day, 21 March 2017

“We need to act now before it is too late,” says local activist, Gregory Werner. This comes after outsiders from the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng are allegedly comfortably setting up drug dens in Heidedal. According to Werner matters are becoming worse as many of the community members do not trust the police. They feel that reporting to the police is a futile exercise.

The Heidedal community rallied together for an anti-drug march and a memorandum was handed over to the Executive Mayor of the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Olly Mlamleli, and Major-General Gele of the SAPS on Human Rights Day (21 March) in 2017.

According to Werner, there was increased police visibility with the police’s mounted unit patrolling the streets of Heidedal on horseback directly after the awareness campaign. The mayor went on record stating that the demands were not unattainable and she promised to take action regarding the requests made by the Heidedal community. Two years later police visibility has faded, the mounted unit has been removed and none of the promises made by the mayor were actioned.

Instead, the drug dealers have increasingly become more brazen and in many instances it was reported on social media that drugs are being sold in full view and in broad daylight with complete impunity. Political parties have joined the fight to address the issues after listening to the pleas of desperate community members. The Patriotic Alliance with Gayton Mckenzie and councillor Attie Terblanche respectively walked into drug dens and on both occassions found under aged girls using drugs.

“An anti-drug march now will definitely get the attention of politicians as well as people in power as elections are looming but I would say that we need a bigger march that involves all of the Mangaung area and a clear sustainable plan must be formulated to address this very serious issue that involves a multitude of other social issues like suicide, prostitution, human trafficking, house breaking, etc,” Werner said. – Pierce van Heerden