THERE is a critical shortage of statefunded rehabilitation centres for children under the age of 18 in the province, the DA said this week.

The party highlighted this as part of National Child Protection week.

DA provincial spokeswoman Veliswa Mvenya said the party used committee meetings to lobby for the opening of a rehab centre in the province given the social issues faced by children here.

“Research shown that most youth perpetrators of crime were under the influence of alcohol or drugs [when] committing offences,” said Mvenya.

She said most of these youths were from abusive or dysfunctional families where alcohol abuse is rife, which traps them in the cycle of substance abuse and violence.

Angelique Fraser, a social worker at the South African National Council on Alcoholism (Sanca) said that there is definitely a need for a children’s rehab in the Eastern Cape.

“As far as I know, the country has only four state-run rehab centres and only one in the province in Grahamstown (Fort England Hospital); though not all cater for children,” said Fraser.

“A lot of youth need substance abuse treatment; often they cannot afford our services or they are just simply too young.” Sanca only admits patients over 18 years of age.

The Dispatch yesterday discovered the only state-run rehab centre in the province, Fort England, only catered for children over the age of 18.

Social development spokesman Gcobani Maswana said government recognised the rise in use of substances among youth and there were plans to curb the scourge. “There is a rehab centre currently being built in Port Elizabeth and we are looking at collaborating with NGOs that provide treatment for addicts,” said Maswana.