In an effort to create awareness among the MUT student community, Sister Bongiwe Sithole from Campus Health Services and Dr Paulette Naidoo from the Student Counselling unit, collaborated with the Department of Social Development by hosting an online webinar entitled Substance Abuse and Human Trafficking: Don’t hang your dreams, hang the bottle and drugs! The main reason for the meeting was that alcohol, substance abuse and human trafficking have become the widely-prevalent social ills which impact on South African society, including students in Higher Education. The event was hosted on 18 November 2020.
One of the guest speakers, Motshabi Nkoane, Social Work Policy Manager from the National Department of Social Development, highlighted the range of substances and forms of illicit drugs on the market, with the aim of increasing student awareness. Dr Paulette Naidoo, Director: Student Counselling, said that alcohol was identified as the most widely used substance in society, while cannabis was found to be the third-highest substance of abuse, especially among young people. “The risks associated with slimming drugs and substances used to stay awake when studying, was also highlighted in the talk. Students were also informed about substance abuse prevention and support resources available in the community, including in-patient and out-patient facilities”, said Dr Naidoo.
Another guest speaker, Colonel Parmanand Jagwa – National Coordinator: Human Trafficking at the South African Police Services Head Office, provided students with an in-depth and compelling account of the realities of human trafficking in society. These included the use of ‘victim control mechanism’, such as drugs, to trap and maintain victims in a vicious cycle of drug abuse and dependence, blackmail and exploitation through prostitution and pornography.
To ensure that the conversation about the issues continued, and that the students receive help beyond the meeting, a toll-free substance abuse hotline was given out: 0800 121314.