By Lawrence Mashabela

  • Tsetela Ramafikeng, a former drug user from Vanderbijlpark, credits the Gauteng Department of Social Development for helping him break free from substance abuse and refocus on rebuilding his career.
  • Ramafikeng’s journey with substance abuse started at the age of 14, escalating from cigarettes to various drugs like crystal meth, tae/nyaope, doble, and cat.
  • Despite facing setbacks, including dropping out of university due to addiction, Ramafikeng underwent treatment at the Freedom Recovery Centre and acquired aluminium fabrication skills through the Bokamoso Information and Development Centre, leading to the establishment of his own company, TMR Aluminum Fabrication.

Former drug user, Tsetela Ramafikeng, is grateful to the Gauteng  Department of Social Development for helping him quit his life of substance abuse and focus on rebuilding his career. 

The 29-year-old from Vanderbijlpark in Sedibeng still cannot believe he managed to overcome the addiction. Ramafikeng said his addiction began at the age of 14 years. It started with a cigarette, then progressed to dagga, and before he knew it, he was deeply involved in drugs. He mentioned they used various types of drugs including crystal meth, tae/nyaope, doble, and cat among others.

“I still remember it was around 2009 when all this started and to be honest it was just peer pressure, and being too forward not knowing that this thing would ruin my future,” he added.  

Ramafikeng said his focus now was to turn his life around after a decade of pain and sorrow due to addiction.

He added that he regretted the day he experimented with drugs. “I lost so much time because of drugs.”

After completing his matric in 2016, Ramafikeng went on to pursue his career in Graphic Design at Vaal University of Technology. However, he said that because he was so deep into drug abuse, he could not finish his studies.

“I failed in the first year and I was on NSFAS, you know if you fail the following year NSFAS won’t pay for you, so I dropped out of varsity and things were now getting worse, I remember I was blaming my parents that they left me in Qwaqwa while I was young,” he explained.

He said things changed after he was referred to Freedom Recovery Centre in Nigel where received treatment for his drug abuse for three months. The centre also provided him with life skills. After completing his treatment, the department further referred Ramafikeng to the Bokamoso Information and Development Centre where he was equipped with aluminium fabrication skills.  

He stated that the skill provided him with a lifeline as he now has a few clients who come and request his services. He revealed that he always wanted to have his own company. “Even with the Graphic Design course, I intended to have my own graphic design business, so aluminium fabrication skill came at the right time.”

Currently, Ramafikeng owns TMR Aluminum Fabrication Company and he’s looking to grow his brand to become one of the well-known aluminium fabrication companies. He said that sometimes it is not because we are not capable of succeeding or reaching great heights in our lives but because we make wrong choices. He believes that his business will keep him away from bad company and focus on rebuilding his future after surviving a terrible period of addiction. He said although drug abuse delayed his future, he could not let it destroy it completely.  

“I am glad that I am now on the right track to reshape my future after losing so much time because of substance abuse,” he added.

Ramafikeng said it was not easy to overcome drug abuse if you do not have a solid support system, especially from the family. “It was so difficult, addiction is painful, you become useless, and nobody wants to associate with the person who is always high, but I always told my mother that one day I will stop using drugs.” 

He praised his mother for the courage to continue supporting him even though he was continuously hurting her and making her a joke in the community.

“I am proud of my mother who never gave up on me, she always believed in me when I said one day I would quit, to me, my mother epitomized the phrase that says, Women grab a knife on its sharp end I never felt alone, this woman continues to show me unconditional love”, he added.

“Today I can cut, bend and weld aluminium into a variety of shapes and thanks to the department, I am grateful for everything.” 

There are a lot of young people with great potential out there who go through a similar path but he hopes that they should not give up. They must keep fighting.

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