Youth Month 2018 came to a close in Thabong, Welkom on 29 June where the MEC for the Department of Police, Roads and Transport, Hon. Sam Mashinini, made a passionate plea to the youths of the Free State Province, their parents and teachers to unite against drug- and substance abuse and the scourge of gangsterism that are eroding the youngsters’ morals and morale.
“We cannot allow drugs to ruin and destroy our youths as they are the future of this country. We cannot allow gangsterism to rob our young people of ambitions and dreams and replace it with hatred and violence.
Many people have lost family members through these two social evils. Young people who are not cherished and supported are easily lured into taking drugs and joining gangs with promises of health, wealth and a place where they can fit in. A neglected teenager becomes an easy target for these predators as they long to belong and in many cases they only serve as cannon fodder for unscrupulous criminals. Many of us already lost family members because of this and we must now make a conscious decision to tackle the problem at community level.”
This is the main reason that this event was held: To raise awareness on and mobilise the community of Welkom and Thabong against these social ills that so easily take hold in poverty stricken areas where unemployment is high and all forms of abuse rampant.
MEC Mashinini encouraged the youth to stay strong and resist the temptation to get involved in dubious practices. “You should never give up. Mamello e tswalaKatleho – there is always light at the end of the tunnel. If communities can work together and assist the youth without judgement or prejudice, they can cultivate a sense of purpose and belonging and they will then not turn to seek acceptance elsewhere.”
He also mentioned that friends can influence each other positively or negatively and that peer group pressure can sometimes coerce people into doing wrong things. “Although it may be hard, you must resist the temptations that might lead you to direct confrontation with the law. Show your family that you can change. Do not look back!”
Mr. Sipho Mtakati, HoD of the DPRT, stressed that “we should motivate and teach our youth to be proud and responsible. They must always be in our prayers and we, as adults, must help them making the right choices in life.”
Me. Janet Pereko, regional councillor of Lejweleputswa, thanked the MEC for spreading these optimistic views to the region.
Me. Dimakatso from Social Development gave an interesting talk on the relevance of gangsterism and mental problems such as bipolar disorder and psychosis.
She explained how parents can observe behavioural changes in their children when they are starting to go into the wrong direction. For children to be rehabilitated they first need to be retrained and equipped so that they will not ever fall on the wayside again.
“There is a halfway house in Clarens where drug addicts can undergo a rehabilitation period to furnish them with skills s0 that they can be re-introduced into society and withstand the pressures to regress into old habits again,” says Me. Dimakatso.
In parting MEC Mashinini appealed to all community members to support and protect the youth so that they feel safe and proud enough to make a constructive contribution in their neighbourhoods.
“Together we will make our country better,” says MEC Mashinini.