President Jacob Zuma today declared drug and alcohol abuse as the enemies of South Africas freedom and democracy.
"Alcohol and drug abuse in particular, are slowly eating into the social fibre of our communities," Zuma said earlier today.
Zuma was addressing scores of young people during the 37th commemoration of National Youth Day held in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal.
The President said a salient point in this struggle for a better life is the fight against drugs and substance abuse; the fight against crime and gangsterism; the fight against child and women abuse; the fight against teenage pregnancy and truancy as well as the fight against mob justice and xenophobia.
"Thus our special message to the youth of the Republic today, is that you must become an integral part of the struggle against all these cancers that are painfully eating our society," he said.
He urged the youth of today to fight the scourge with the same vigour that, "we fought apartheid, and the zest that is displayed in our successful fight against HIV and Aids today".
He lamented that the youth have become slaves of drugs such as Nyaope, whoonga, tik and Kubar amongst others. Others are slaves to alcohol abuse.
He said according to the 2nd South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey 2008, the Western Cape, Gauteng, Free State and North West reported the highest alcohol consumption rates by the youth.
While Limpopo and Western Cape were the only provinces where more female learners than male learners had used alcohol in their lifetime.
He said alcohol abuse among young people is usually a gateway to the use of harmful substances.
"Drug and substance abuse have serious implications for the millions of citizens because they contribute to crime, gangsterism, domestic violence, family dysfunction and other forms of social problems," he noted.
He said Government must respond more vociferously than ever, to the cries of the youth of Eldorado Park, Mabopane, Westbury, Mamelodi, and other areas who are facing the onslaught of drugs.
"As we speak today, many parents are in pain, as they watch their children deteriorating and their lives being destroyed by drugs and alcohol abuse," he said.
The President told the gathering he had visited Eldorado Park recently and listened to horrific tales of young people who rob their own families in order to obtain money for drugs.
"I have heard tales of children as young as eight years old who are now addicted to drugs. I have heard tales of young girls who are molested in drug dens, or lollie lounges," he said.
He said we must declare drug traffickers and those who run illegal alcohol outlets that sell alcohol to children the enemies of our freedom. "They should be ashamed of running businesses that destroy children, the youth and many families".
He announced that Government and its partners are implementing the Anti-Substance National Plan of Action. He urged communities to play an active role in ensuring its success.
"We need to work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that such people are brought to book. We must report them, so that we can stop them from destroying our communities," he said.
He revealed that the plan focuses on enabling policy and legislation, the reduction of supply and demand of drugs as well as treatment and rehabilitation of addicts.
He added that already there are 215 Local Drug Action Committees around the country that are assisting communities manage their own preventative work at grassroots level.
He said the SA Police Service plays a key role in the fight against drugs and substance alcohol abuse. He said the police in 2012 conducted a total of 394 379 liquor compliance inspections.
"A total of 74547 illegal liquor traders were charged and closed down last year," he said. – SAnews.gov.za