Police are investigating murder and assault at an illegal Ruyterwacht rehabilitation centre. Supplied
Police are investigating murder and assault at an illegal Ruyterwacht rehabilitation centre. Supplied

Public warned to check rehab centres after department says its investigating illegal rehabs

By Nomalanga Tshuma Time of article published Nov 19, 2021

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Cape Town - Following shocking revelations about an unregistered rehabilitation centre in Ruyterwacht, the Department of Social Development (DSD) has revealed that it is investigating 36 other illegal rehabs in the province.

In addressing the public regarding the shocking allegations made by patients rescued from Synergy Rehabilitation and Upliftment in Ruyterwacht, Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez called on the public to check and only make use of registered rehab facilities.

Fernandez said: “We received distressing reports of a murder at an illegal substance abuse rehabilitation centre operating out of a residence in Ruyterwacht, Cape Town. The patients who were removed from the residence by police claimed to have been tortured and abused by the centre’s facilitators. I condemn the actions of those responsible.

“Operating an unregistered rehab is illegal. The issue with illegal rehab facilities is that they don’t comply with prescribed norms and standards, such as offering their patients access to qualified professionals, nor do they provide recognised structured treatment programmes.

“We are appealing to citizens to please ensure that your loved ones sign up for treatment at a registered facility when needing help with a substance use disorder,” she said.

To date, police have arrested three people, including a 15-year-old, as they continue their investigation into the allegations made by patients they rescued from the illegal centre.

DSD spokesperson Joshua Chigome said: “There is enough space to accommodate people who need treatment in our department-funded residential and non-residential treatment programmes.

“These programmes are free, so the public does not need to resort to illegal rehabs for help.

“If people don’t report illegal centres we may not be able to identify them, especially where they are in residential properties without signage.

“The department is also mindful of the need for substance use disorder treatment facilities, and thus takes a developmental approach by trying to assist facilities with becoming compliant so that registration status can be achieved.

“However, some illegal rehabilitation centres have been involved in threatening our staff and are run by criminals.

“Charges have been laid with the SAPS, but we have not seen any movement on the cases,” said Chigome

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Cape Argus

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