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Updated 28 September 2015

Substance abuse is rife in the Northern Cape

Poor communities in the Northern Cape are badly affected by substance abuse, especially alcohol, among the province's youth.

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The Portfolio Committee on Social Development has heard that substance abuse is a real challenge in the Northern Cape, particularly in poor communities.

MEC Mxolisi Sokatsha told Committee Members that foetal alcohol spectrum disorder is prevalent among farming communities in Upington and De Aar, and is even worse in Kimberley, with Galeshewe township recording rates of 11% per 1 000 young people.

Read: Foetal alcohol syndrome highest in SA 

“This means well over 60 per 1 000 youths have permanent irreversible brain damage due to alcohol damage during pregnancy.

Both rural and urban areas are negatively impacted in the same way,” MEC Sokatsha said.

The Committee is on a week-long oversight visit to the province and will visit rehabilitation centres in Kimberley and De Aar, among other places.

The Acting Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Hope Malgas, said the Committee wanted to ascertain if the department’s programmes were having an impact, especially in resolving the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

“Substance abuse is not only limited to the Northern Cape. The Nelson Mandela Metro and the farming communities in the Western Cape suffered from this condition [as well]. It is really sad to see children born with this condition,” Ms Malgas said.

She said the Committee had identified substance abuse strategies in the province as a particular area of interest.

Read more: 

Foetal alcohol syndrome is not just a Cape problem 

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy is common in England, Ireland and Australasia

Pregnant moms unaware of drinking risk

Image: Young man surrounded by alcohol from Shutterstock 

 
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