Teen detained in juvenile centre for eating dagga cookie

Checkpoint investigates dagga detention. Children tested positive for cannabis at school ends up being detained in prison-like facilities. Did the punishment fit the crime? Courtesy #DStv403

KRUGERSDORP - Four learners from the Pro Practicum Vocational School on the West Rand were held at a youth detention centre with hardened criminals for 77 days, for eating a dagga cookie.

The four tested positive for the drug at school.

EFF Krugersdorp branch member, Bianca-Lee Grossett took an interest in the case.

“They opened a case against a child which is mind-boggling on all levels because you cannot charge a child of a urine test,” Grossett said.

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One of the boy's mother says he was charged at a police station and put into a programme.

"I thought maybe they were going to teach him how drugs can be harmful. Little did I know that that signature would put him in prison," she said.

Allegations of assault inside the dagga detention centre. Courtesy #DStv403

The boy and three others who tested positive for cannabis at the school were later sentenced to six months at a child detention centre in Mogale City.

Inside the facility, he was allegedly beaten and strangled repeatedly.

In terms of the Schools Act, children found guilty of drug use at school may not be subjected to the criminal justice system – and detention centres are for children who have committed serious crimes like rape and murder not so-called schedule one offences like dagga smoking.

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The four boys were eventually released after 77 days when the chief magistrate at the Krugersdorp court asked the high court to review the matter.

The Centre for Child Law has since added its voice to the review process as a friend of the court to argue that cannabis should be decriminalised for children as well as adults.

It is expected the case will be heard in the coming months by the Constitutional Court.

Should the use of cannabis by children be decriminalized? Minister of Justice who has been asked to review legislation with a view to decriminalizing cannabis use for children and not only adults. Courtesy #DStv403


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