They said they knew that using drugs was bad but it helps them deal with their problems.

“When I smoke weed I’m happy and forget about everything else,” said Mastermind.

Joshua Chigome, a spokesman for the social development MEC, said they were working on plans to tackle substance abuse.

“We’ve targeted treating young people to address the rising tide of drug usage.”

He said the department has budgeted R66 million while a further R43 million has been allocated to residential drug treatment centres.

“The Department currently funds six NGO-run in-patient treatment facilities,13 community based treatment NGOs which give treatment at 30 sites, 21 NGOs that provide early intervention services from 29 sites and 10 NGOs that render aftercare services across 16 sites.”

School learners from Philippi also take part smoking whenever they are not at school and on their way to school. Photo by Lulekwa Mbadamane