Sanca PE on brink of collapse

Eviction notice served as spiking drug use, rising costs hit cash-strapped organisation

The Port Elizabeth branch of the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) is on the brink of collapse, as a spiking krokodil drug epidemic and rising costs take their toll on the organisation.

Sanca provides lifesaving withdrawal drugs, counselling and assistance to more than 700 people in Port Elizabeth.

It also assesses drug-and alcohol-addicted patients for suitability for treatment at centres such as the Ernst Malgas Centre for children in New Brighton.

Director Zarina Ghulam said they had closed their Newton Park offices as they were unable to pay the rent and had been served with an eviction notice.

“We are opening a much smaller office at 74C Stanford Road in Korsten,” she said.

“By necessity we will have to find satellite offices for our social workers across the metro as this space is too small.”

Ghulam said they would also be using a communal office provided by MES-aksie, an organisation helping the homeless and the destitute.

“If there is anybody with a suitable building we could use for free I would be so grateful,” she said.

While she can still pay her staff and the Department of Social Development is subsidising their social workers, she has not been able to draw a salary in six months.

“I am barely hanging on,” she said.

About 700 people depend on their counselling service and they test and help more than 150 new patients a month.

The latest reports published by the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use (Sacendu), an alcohol and drug surveillance system, show a sharp spike in the number of addicts seeking help in the last six months.

Siphokazi Dada, from Sacendu, said the primary substance abuses reported by treatment centres in the Eastern Cape between January and June last year had been of alcohol, methamphetamines, dagga and mandrax.

Also spiking is the use of the highly toxic and addictive krokodil, a drug so named because it causes an addict’s skin to become scaly and ulcerated.

Dada said in the first six months of last year they had seen a significant spike in addicts seeking help at Eastern Cape treatment centres.

“Admissions for over-the-counter medication have risen from 2% to 7%,” she said.

Treatment centres registered 638 new patients in the first six months of last year, almost 200 more than the 471 in the previous six months.

Ghulam said: “We have asked for help from the departments of health and education, but they have their own problems.”

To add to their troubles the South African Revenue Services had not issued them with a proper tax certificate to assist with their fundraising in five years.

Ghulam can be contacted on 061-402-6751.

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