The local adage ‘Go December Boss’ is affiliated with the vibe and hype of December, one of the silliest seasons of the year. A time when new experiences are explored and high risks and experiments are taken. With travel people seek a new location to visit with loved ones.
In regards to dining some may choose a different restaurant from the norm or eat and prepare recipes they normally would not. This is also a time when alcohol and drugs are in good supply and are easily accessible. Both the Botswana Police and the Botswana Substance Abuse Support Network (BOSASNet) confirm that the main illegal drug currently circulating is CAT, internationally known as ‘The poor man’s cocaine’.
“CAT is the street name. In Setswana it’s called Katse. When we subject the drug to analysis we find Cathinone and other substances,” explains the Ass. Supt, Officer in Charge of Investigations (Narcotics) at Botswana Police, Petrus Nkgetse.
The Narcotics team started to notice CAT in Botswana in early January 2015; CAT is a white coloured drug that is mainly snorted through the nose. Amongst the illegal substances, the most popularly used as observed over the years by the police has been Marijuana, followed by Crack Cocaine, and Ecstasy.
Marijuana is constantly leading in terms of usage and is also the most affordable illegal drug. “People who were using Crack Cocaine have moved on to CAT. The drug users range from 18 – 45 years,” shares Nkgetse.
“CAT is created with substances which have major side effects. You will notice with CAT users that they have damage to the mucous membrane of their nose,” observes the policeman. CAT is currently selling on the streets for P100 per sachet.
Listening to the Clinical Programmes Manager at the Botswana Substance Abuse Support one gets an insight into the life of an addict. This is someone who will sell anything including him/herself to get another hit.
The ranges of substances that are used in Botswana are just as elaborate as those used by the rest of the world’s addicts, she says. She lists as common among the youth the use of Alcohol, Cigarettes (Nicotine) and Marijuana (Weed).
Among the ‘older youth’ or those who are working and have jobs the trending drugs are currently CAT, Crack Cocaine and Alcohol. “The more intensified drugs such as CAT, Ecstasy, Heroine and Cocaine are being used by the older youth or the working youth.”
Manyanda therefore concurs with the Botswana Police that CAT is the trending drug. “It’s called CAT. Others suspect its Crystal Meth. We are still not sure of the content of the drug,” she adds. Nkgetse also agrees with Manyanda that, “To increase the potency of the drug, the sellers will add anything because nothing is regulated.”
The medicine cabinet or the place you stash your winter season leftovers in the house is a great source for addicts who use Codeine; which is found in regular cough syrups. “If you hear your child saying we are chilling and drinking some ‘lean’ you must know they are getting high on Codeine,” she shares.
A saying she’s heard from her young clients is that, “We don’t hustle with dealers,” when elaborated it means the children resort to their parent’s medicines to get high. Another popular drug found in homes is the over the counter ‘sleeping pill’.
The Clinical Manager has observed that once you get one person reporting any particular drug use it means the problem is widespread. She observes that in 2012 BOSASNet had no clients addicted to Cocaine but of late they are on their 11th Cocaine addicted client.
“With drug abuse it is hard to know the exact numbers because people only come when there is a problem.” She adds that it is usually the teachers, employers and parents who identify drug abusers and report the matter.
The observation from both professionals is that drugs are offered to you. “Drug dealers are smart. Initially they give you the drugs for free, knowing that once you are hooked you will be the one chasing them,” adds Nkgetse. “Just because the drug is undetectable via the breather-lizer, it doesn’t make it okay,” advises the BOSASNet representative.
If you or anyone you know needs help with substance abuse kindly contact BOSASNet on 3959119 and 3913490 or 72659891.
If you would like to report any matter to do with above contact the Botswana Police on 999.
Please call Mascom line number 14000 to enter the competition and help raise funds to keep BOSASNet afloat.
BACK ON TRACK
BR train 0501/BD 540 would not have derailed on 10 December 2019 had necessary precautions been taken, Botswana Railways (BR) staff members told the ongoing commission of inquiry in Mahalapye.
They blame the fatal accident in which two BR employees were killed on a raft of lapses, indecisions and negligence on the part of BR management. BR Senior Traffic Controller Simon Matenje revealed that there is a WhatsApp group that discusses everything concerning the running of BR trains. He said meteorological services had posted a memo warning that there would be floods on 4th December and shared it on the WhatsApp group. “The contents of the memo and their implications were discussed,” said Matenje who revealed that the group comprises most of the senior personnel in the BR hierarchy.
He lamented that although read and discussed the contents of the memo were “not given due attention.” Above that, on 9th and 10th December many BR staff members using the south bound and north bound trains warned relevant authorities about the possibility of floods, said Matenje. He believes there was negligence of duty on the part of management because everybody was aware of the floods at Moreomabele and Palla Road. “The relevant office should have directed stoppage of the trains or the adoption of an appropriate speed limit. “The best that management did was to give warnings about the floods but fell short of prescribing a solution,” he said. Matenje, who was on leave, said that he communicated his concerns about the reports of flooding and possible solutions to no avail.
When asked who exactly had the authority to do that, Matenje explained that it was the Operation’s Manager. Matenje also decried the lapses in the organisation’s system. He said motor trollies are helpful when inspecting the railway line. “However, they have not featured for a long time,” said Matenje who feels that regular inspection of the rail is a very critical part of safety. He said BR has not held any safety workshops in a long time. Mompoloki Rutherford, a train driver also appearing before the commission conceded that trollies had not been used on the BR lines for a long time. He said some senior managers use the train to inspect the line instead of trollies. “There are only two seats in the cabin but, contrary to safety rules, sometimes they just join us in the cabin which is a breach of the safety rules,” said Rutherford. Dikabelo Nawa, a retired train driver noted that BR workers were a sad lot because of pressure always exerted on them by management.
“Drivers work under pressure. The line between Mafikeng and Plumtree is old and very bad but we were always pushed by management to arrive on time. “There is just too much pressure. I once lost time and that put me into a big problem.” He said. He is also unhappy with the undergrowth and hanging branches next to the line because they obstruct the view of the crew. He appealed to the panel to recommend the introduction of a training centre for BR staff.
Peter Mokokwe, a recently retired train driver also complained that the rail road is never inspected. In addition to that, he told the commission that, he witnessed water around Palla Road on 9th December at the same place where the derailment later took place. Mokokwe, who himself did not alert control room about the water because he had heard through radio communication that his colleagues had reported the situation to control room, is also of the view that the disaster could have been averted had the 501 crew been alerted of the water situation.
On the other hand, a train controller named Moses Sethomo says he never got the communique warning the drivers about the impending floods. “There was a clear breakdown of communication,” said Sethomo who revealed that very often, even BR assets are wrongly used. “For example, sometimes freight locomotives instead of passenger train locomotives are used to haul the passenger train and this is a safety concern,” he noted. The hearings are continuing this week. The rail services that were suspended have since been resumed.
Youth lament slow pace towards ICPD commitments
Young people representing Botswana at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) in Nairobi, Kenya last week have expressed disappointment at the slow pace at which governments are moving towards achieving ICPD25 ideals.
Trevor Oahile, a youth advocate and student at the University of Botswana participated at the Nairobi Summit to highlight on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of men and boys.
Oahile hosts a radio show sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Don’t Get It Twisted on Yarona FM. The show deals with issues that affect boys and men. Oahile participated in a panel discussion at the Summit on the involvement of men and boys in accelerating the ICPD promise.
He is of the view that countries needs to work together to end violence that is perpetuated by harmful gender norms that are antagonistic to progress towards the ideals of the ICPD agenda. “Botswana government and private sector are still challenged to invest a lot of money into implementing their commitments,” Oahile said, adding that Comprehensive Sexual Education on the other hand has to be rolled out to every school in the country.
“We also acknowledge that it is important to avoid stereotypes that impact decisions that people make. Men and boys often avoid certain services because they are known to be for girls and women,” Oahile said. Millicent Sethaile was at the Summit as a youth ambassador from an organisation called Her Voice, which funds and offers grants to smaller organisations that advocate for SRHR in communities. In her view the summit was significant because it was an opportunity for countries including Botswana to make commitments to fulfill the unfinished business of the ICPD made 25 years ago.
“What struck me the most is that I realised that Botswana has a long way to go to achieve the commitments she set for herself.”Sethaile also observed that the four commitments including to strengthen access to family planning, the reduction of maternal deaths, reduction of Gender Based Violence, provision of quality, timely and disaggregated data are activities that were already in the pipeline and have been discussed before. “I believe we now have to come up with actionable items that we can work on so that we can effectively deal with current challenges.”
For 18 year old University student Michelle Simon, the Nairobi Summit was a reality check, an opportunity to reflect and map the way forward.
“I realised that there are so many challenges, especially in Africa concerning SRHR,” Simon said. She also realised that Botswana has a lot of catching up to do to implement the commitments of the ICPD. “I also realised that issues including youth in power were left out.” Botho Mahlunge on the other hand comes back from the Summit with a conclusion that there are a lot of predicaments that young people find themseles in across the African continent including GBV and teenage pregnancy.
Programmes need to be intensified to ensure implementation. Mahlunge is also of the view that there is minimum youth engagement on issues that affet them the most. “Young people are tired of always convening about the same issues. It’s time to see the outcomes of Summits and Conferences,” Mahlunge said. She advised the youth to also be willing to engage when the oppotunity avails itself and to take up programmes that have been set to help them. Mahlunge said that failure to educate our young people on sexuality “is the reason so many girls are getting pregnant and infected with HIV.”
She said the continued exclusion of young people in rural areas from sexual and reproductive health and rights discussion is also to blame for the prevailing state of affairs. “Young people in rural areas are completely vulnerable. They are so far removed from the little information and services available to young people in urban areas,” Mahlunge observed.
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