Behind the walls with Givemore Muzariri
THE downside of globalisation includes the abuse of drugs by youths – a culture they adopted thanks to western music, films and social media.
Now hard drugs such as crystal meth and cocaine are common in Zimbabwe.
Some of the youth under the influence of these drugs have found themselves on the wrong side of the law and Joshua Alfred Lawrence (30) is one example of a drug abuser, who is serving a one-and-a-half-year jail term at Bulawayo Prison on charges of house breaking and theft to feed his drug addiction.
The inmate said he got into drugs when he was only 16 years old after being enrolled at a Bulawayo private school for his secondary education.
While at school he met friends from different schools and they believed smoking dagga and drinking cough syrup was fashionable during those days.
“To be honest with you, my brother, I come from a well-up family and my mother had sacrificed to take me to one of the best high schools to do my secondary education but unfortunately, when I got to school I met the wrong friends who were exposed to Western culture through social media.
“While at school we started experimenting a lot and in the process we started taking drugs as we thought this made us different from other students that we were learning with,” he said.
Lawrence said while at school they used to contribute money towards the purchase of drugs using their pocket money.
As they became more addicted to the drugs, they started stealing different properties from their homes to raise money just to get high.
“The drugs that we were taking at school really affected me such that I became more violent at school and this later forced the school authorities to expel me from school due to the issue of fighting with other students.
“I was expelled a few months before I could sit for my Ordinary Level examinations and when this information got into the ears of my parents they also decided to throw me out of their house,” he said.
The inmate said soon after expulsion from both home and school he joined a group of hard core criminals residing in Makokoba suburb and they started training him in various forms of crime that ranged from house breaking, shop breaking and car breaking.
Lawrence said the Makokoba gangsters later introduced him to cocaine and crystal meth.
These drugs changed him a lot as he lost appetite, could not sleep any more but had a lot of energy to commit any crime without hesitation.
“It’s exactly six years now since I started taking these highly toxic drugs and to be honest there is nothing productive that has come along instead it’s destruction after destruction.
“As we speak, my relations with my family and my friends were broken as I stole from them because on a normal day I could blow US$100 and this later forced me to steal from whoever I stayed with,” he said.
The inmate said craving for drugs later saw him breaking into shops and on the fateful day he met some guys who were breaking into a shop in the city centre and he decided to help them and he got away with some groceries that ranged from soft drinks, chocolates, cellphones, CCTV cameras and the till with cash.
“I was caught the next day selling my loot in the city centre and through police investigations they discovered that the property had been stolen from the broken shop.
“While investigating on the other six guys that I had worked with, I told them the truth that I did not even know who they were but they could not believe it instead they thought I was covering up for them.
“The court officials argued that I was the mastermind of this raid, so they later decided to send me to prison as a way of sending a strong message to other potential offenders,” he said.
Lawrence said soon after conviction he was taken to Bulawayo Prison.
This was his second time in prison.
“Each time I look at myself I always feel sorry for my mother who is always crying because of my crazy behaviour.
When I was imprisoned in Harare she was there for me even if I stole a lot of her property trying to raise money to buy these drugs.
“When I was brought here I told myself that it’s high time I start changing for the best as my behaviour stressed my mother to the point of death.
Like I said I come from a well up family and they gave me the best but in return I got into drugs,” he said.
Lawrence said he sees prison as a rehabilitation centre as he has regained weight and now had enough time to eat, sleep and rest.
The inmate said while on drugs he could go for seven days without sleeping or eating properly.
“I am happy with the progress that I am making here right now.
It’s a challenge to move away from drugs as they have really affected my life and
I hope a lot of people out there will stop abusing drugs.
“Instead let’s venture into projects that can grow us to be the better leaders of tomorrow,” he said.