Years after the Melgisedek building in Pretoria Moot was condemned as unfit for human habitation, the informal settlement has grown bigger and the former hostel was now a known drug hub.
On the corner of the informal settlement lived Willem Mahlangu who had trouble walking due to a disability.
Mahlangu has lived there for 11 years and converted a section of his shack into a tuck shop with a window facing the street to sell to passersby.
“The spaza shop keeps me alive,” he said.
Mahlangu said the informal settlement was getting overcrowded.
“Here are too many people. Here are old people and young people. Some of these young boys, we find them stealing and running through here to escape. But us, we are not stealing. We are not all criminals.”
Mahlangu said there were too many drugs being sold at the informal settlement.
“This year six people died because of the drugs. They inject with fake drugs, wrong nyaope, someone selling baby powder to make money.
“Then dead. Some buy and go, some buy and use the drugs here and then some of them stay here.”
Mahlangu said because most of the young people are without jobs, they started using drugs.
“Some of them steal for drugs. It’s because of stress. I think they use drugs to keep their minds busy,” he said.
Another resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said he has been living in the informal settlement since 2002.
“It’s not a scary place. Yes, there are drugs here, you can’t say there are not, but not the way you think,” he said.
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He said among the troublemakers lived people with families.
“There are a lot of children here who go to school. There is even a place for the children to play. But the problem is, there is no power and we share four toilets with more than 300 people here,” he said.
Moses Bekker, who also lived in the informal settlement, said there were many people selling drugs at the informal settlement.
“Heroin, crystal, nyaope, cat, everything. There are a lot of people living here smoking that stuff and selling it,” he said.
The SA Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use found in a recent study that drug abuse was widespread in Tshwane.
Tshwane health MMC Rina Marx said 19% of households who took part in the study indicated that at least one person in the household abused substances.
She said the city would implement a Community Oriented Substance Use Programme in partnership with the University of Pretoria based on demand and harm reduction in line with the requirements of the National Drug Master Plan of 2019-2024.