Pedal-push to help addicts

ON A MISSION: Warrant Officer Johan Nortje, 43, of Despatch will take to the tarmac on Saturday on a 150km cycle to help raise funds for the Vistarus rehabilitation centre

Cop organises epic cycle ride to raise funds for PE rehab centre

Seeing firsthand the devastation drug addiction wreaks on families was the motivation behind a Port Elizabeth policeman’s desire to raise funds to combat the societal scourge. Warrant Officer Johan Nortje, 43, of Despatch, will take on a 150km cycle ride.

He will be joined by a number of friends in hopes of raising R25 000 for drug rehabilitation centre Vistarus.

Nortje is also inviting other interested residents to join the cycle.

He said the idea had come to him three months ago when he was told the centre needed to revamp two of its bungalows, but did not have the R25 000 needed.

A third bungalow was recently revamped thanks to an estate agent.

Nortje’s work with Vistarus started three years ago when he was driving to work on a Sunday night and spotted a man sitting at traffic lights at the Walmer Boulevard and Humewood Road intersection.

“Something told me I must talk to him,” he said. “We spoke and that was the beginning.

“I normally deal with drug addicts who mostly stand at traffic lights. A lot of them are heroin addicts.

“But this one asked me about going to rehab as he was looking for help.

“I then took him to Vistarus and I have been assisting the centre however I can ever since,” Nortje said.

Three months ago, he was told of the need to revamp the bungalows where more than 16 men sleep.

“I decided to do this [cycle], something I will also enjoy,” he said.

The ride will start at Vistarus, in Sydenham, and go along Prince Alfred Road, up Mount Road into Cape Road.

The cyclists will then cycle Target Kloof before going through Walmer and Summerstrand and finally ending in Draaifontein Road in Greenbushes.

Vistarus spokeswoman Nadia Jacobs said: “The bungalows are looking really bad and we are very excited about the initiative taken by Johan.

“We want to bring back dignity and give hope.”

Jacobs said the centre was running out of space and was inundated by people looking for help with drug addiction.

“We are quite unusual in that we take in families, men, women and children of all ages,” she said.

Bicycle shop owner and cyclist Marius Erasmus, 48, also of Despatch, will be joining Nortje on the ride.

“We are ready for the cycle as we cycled a long distance last month,” he said.

He was no stranger to cycling for a good cause as he had previously cycled to the Mighty Men conference in Cape Town with Nortje, he said.

The cyclists will meet at Vistarus on Saturday at 6am to depart at 7am. Those who would like to join the ride can contact the centre on (041) 484-1106.

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