Category Archives: Rand Aid

Wedge Gardens slams dagga ruling

Wedge Gardens substance abuse treatment centre outside of Johannesburg has reacted with dismay to the Constitutional Court’s ruling on September 18 that permits people to cultivate and use cannabis ‘in private’ and for their own use.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo ruled the personal use of dagga is not a criminal offence.

Sanca, to which Wedge Gardens is affiliated, said in reaction that South Africa is already crippled with the highest percentages of addiction in the world (World Health Organisation report 2017).

Wedge Garden’s Adèl Grobbelaar said it was a sad day for South Africa. She said that while dagga is now freely available, rehabilitation is not. There are in fact insufficient treatment centres and private therapy is relatively expensive.

She added that a can of worms had been opened in terms of monitoring the use of  dagga to ensure that it meets the criteria of the ruling and that children under the age of 18 are not using the drug.

“This opens the door to drug dealers to make even more money off addicts. Often, the dagga you buy is not ‘clean’ but is laced with various other drugs that cause the acceleration of the addiction process. The more the dealers sell, the more money they make.

“The fact remains that dagga is a gateway drug to other drugs; recent research within our clinics has once again made this very clear. Now, youth coming from law-abiding families who previously were less likely to access dagga will more easily be exposed to the drug.”

While there have long been arguments that dagga is medicinal, just like any medicine, there is a real threat of addiction when not taken in moderation.

“Also concerning is the reality that the younger people are when they start using dagga, the higher the possibility of developing psychiatric conditions.

“It is indeed a very sad day because a high percentage of our youth are going to bear the consequences of this ruling.”

Sanca added that smoking and using cannabis in one’s personal space could violate the rights of children and others. The stricter tobacco rules being proposed in the Tobacco Draft Bill are also at odds with this ruling, said Sanca.

The organisation said that one third of all patients treated by Sanca nationally used cannabis alone or in combination with other substances and an internal study at Sanca confirmed that nearly 60% of clients started with cannabis and then moved to other substances.

Any change in legislation that may have an impact on the citizens of a country necessitates that the widest possible consultation takes place to consider the impact on crime, health and welfare and education, concluded Sanca.

Contact details: 

Sanca National: 011 892 3829


Wedge Gardens: 011 430 0320 / 071 690 4942


It is #InternationalOverdoseDay2018 @WedgeGardens

The power of positive thinking was the central theme of all treatment sessions at Wedge Gardens in the last week of August, in the build-up to International Overdose Awareness Day being celebrated today (Friday, 31 August).

People being treated at the rehab centre were asked to write an inspirational message on a special blackboard. Messages like, ‘Don’t count the days, make the days count’ and ‘Recover, find peace, live free’ served as affirmation that addiction can be overcome with the will to start again and the support of a caring therapeutic team.

People are encouraged to wear silver today to spread awareness of International Overdose Day. This global event aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.

Wedge Gardens is Sanca-affiliated, and both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

Wedge Gardens: 011 430 0320 / 071 690 4942


#InternationalOverdoseDay2018 @WedgeGardens

Wedge Gardens’ therapeutic team centred its activities around overdose awareness in the last week of August 2018, to mark #InternationalOverdoseDay2018 on Friday, 31 August.

Activities included intervention work (like incorporating lectures on the traumas relating to an overdose) and the sharing of national statistics and stories relating to drug overdose. Also discussed were the different types of drugs associated with overdose, the high risk of mixing certain drugs, the dangers of reduced tolerance and the threats association with getting drugs from unfamiliar suppliers.

“We looked at prevention, recognition and basic response tools as well,” says addiction specialist Karen Griessel, who is a social worker at Wedge Gardens.

“On a lighter note, each patient made a mask depicting their inward and outward feelings regarding addiction and the painful reality of overdose.

“We have also implemented a chalk paint wall where we each patient can write up their pro-life quote in remembrance of those who have lost their fight against the disease of addiction. By having participants write an inspiring message on the wall, we were able to conclude that day’s activities on a positive note.”

People are encouraged to wear silver on Friday to spread awareness of International Overdose Day. This global event aims to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It also acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day spreads the message that the tragedy of overdose death is preventable.

Wedge Gardens is Sanca-affiliated, and both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

Wedge Gardens: 011 430 0320 / 071 690 4942



Wedge Gardens social worker Karen Griessel with people undergoing rehab at the substance abuse treatment centre. They are wearing masks they made to depict their inward and outward feelings regarding addiction.


Wedge Gardens supports #InternationalOverdoseDay2018

This Friday (31 August) is International Overdose Day and Wedge Gardens treatment centre will dedicate its lecturers and workshops to raising awareness of how easily a drug overdose can happen.

Wedge Gardens is Sanca-affiliated, and both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

Sanca and its affiliates want to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death, as well as acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends of those who have met with death or permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

Members of the public are asked to wear silver on Friday to show their support of #InternationalOverdoseDay2018.

The United Nations World Drug report of 2014 reported that 7.06% of South Africans abuse narcotics of some kind. One in 14 people are regular users. This equals 3.74 million people.

Over the past 12 years, there has been a 35% increase in admissions to the 30 Sanca-affiliated treatment centres, reflecting the increasing national substance abuse levels in South Africa.

Sanca treated 24 152 clients in the two-year period from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2018. The majority of the clients (75%) were treated at outpatient centres and 25% at inpatient treatment centres.

Most people who seek treatment at Sanca centres are aged between 22 and 35.  The second largest group is 14 to 17 years old. Alarmingly, there is an increase of 3% in the number of children aged between four and 13 who seek treatment.

Sanca says that the high number of youngsters abusing substances is extremely worrying because the brain only reaches maturity at 26 years of age and before that, the risks of permanent structural changes to the brain are increased.

Cannabis is the main substance being abused (between 37% and 38%); then alcohol (between 19% and 21%); heroin/opiates (14%) and ‘other mixed’ – which includes whoonga/nyaope (14%).

Many people assume that overdose is only relevant to illegal drugs but people can overdose on prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications. The categories of OTC medications most likely to be abused are painkillers and anti-inflammatories; heartburn and indigestion medications; cough and cold medications; weight loss laxatives, diuretics and slimming tablets; and sleep aids.

Many people don’t realise that most painkillers and cold and cough medications contains codeine, which is derived from the opioid family (like heroin and morphine). If used as instructed, it will benefit the person but if abused, it could cause dependency and have harmful consequences.


  • Long-term use can lead to adverse effects and have serious side effects.
  • OTC can interact and interfere with prescription medications. Aspirin, for example, interacts with blood thinners, antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Pseudoephedrine found in cough and cold medications interfere with anti-depressants or stimulants used for ADHD.
  • OTC laxatives (sodium phosphate) can cause dehydration and abnormal levels of electrolytes in the blood, leading to kidney failure.
  • Chronic use could lead to tolerance, physical dependency or even addiction.
  • Some of the long-term effects are kidney and liver damage, seizures, heart rhythm abnormalities, stroke, ulcers, gastrointestinal disorders, gallstones, chronic constipation, depression, constant rebound headaches, neurological problems, psychiatric problems and even death in some cases.

Thousands of people die each year from drug-related causes, including suicides when intoxicated as well as motor vehicle accidents due to drunk driving.

Substance use disorders are dangerous and over time, the person develops a serious problem. The cycle of compulsive drug use can only be broken through professional assistance.

Sanca encourages members of the public to share any story of loss on the Sanca National Directorate Facebook page or on your Facebook or Twitter account. You could save a life! 

Contact details:

SANCA National: 011 892 3829

Whatsapp: 076 535 1701


Wedge Gardens: 011 430 0320 / 071 690 4942


Dorothy dances her way to 100 years of age

Sitting in a pool of sunlight, Dorothy Mary de Bruyn’s face lit up when she was handed a bright bunch of flowers and a special card on the afternoon of her 100th birthday.

Her family celebrated her centenary a few days earlier, to coincide with a visit from daughter Rosalie who lives in the UK, but management and staff of Rand Aid’s Ron Smith Care Centre, where Dorothy lives, made sure that her actual birthday was memorable too.

Dorothy was born in Johannesburg on August 21, 1918. Her parents were Evelyn May and Robert Johnston. The families were originally from North Yorkshire and the Loch Lomond area of Scotland respectively.

She spent her early life in Johannesburg and was educated by nuns at the Belgravia convent. Her father drove the first steam engine to Swaziland and the family spent many years living in Carolina.

Dorothy’s childhood was dedicated to ballet and at the age of 16 she passed the Royal Academy of Ballet Elementary exam and started teaching.

The family had by this time moved back to the East Rand where her father was the engineer at the Far East Rand hospital. She met and married Christian Mauritz de Bruyn. As a couple, they were keen ballroom dancers and gave exhibitions at local dances.

They settled in Brakpan and Dorothy’s first ballet studio was in Kitzinger Avenue. She was a well-known ballet teacher on the East Rand at a time when June Meyer, the Gardener sisters, Rosemary Wilson and Thelma Isaacs were all active and teaching. A highlight of the dancing calendar was the Springs Eisteddfod where everyone competed.

She has had a lifelong love and enthusiasm for ballet and even took her studio to see Nadia Nerina and the Royal ballet when they toured South Africa in the 50s.

Their son Chris was born in 1944 and worked as an engineer for South African airways. Rosalie was born in 1950 and worked as a paediatric radiologist at Great Ormand Street children’s hospital after immigrating to the UK. Dorothy has five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

In the 60s and 70s she travelled weekly from Brakpan into the Platteland and had large ballet studios in Bethal and Ermelo. She was very highly regarded and became an examiner for the Royal Academy of Dancing. At the age of 50, she learned and took all the examinations in Classical Greek dancing and became very knowledgeable about Greek mythology.

This led to her choreographing a dance of Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld, coming back from the Underworld carrying a pomegranate. In later years, she helped former pupils like Jacqui Chalom teach before finally retiring in her late 70s.

Dorothy has always lived her life with enormous energy and enthusiasm. She particularly loved travelling and exploring new places. She was a regular visitor to the UK but particularly like the buzz of the markets in Hong Kong and Bangkok.

“She loves food and going to good restaurants and she never forgot a good meal or how much it cost! She has a lovely sense of humour and her granddaughter has abiding memories of her saying she ‘was as full as a tick’ after a particularly filling meal,” shares Rosalie.


Ron Smith Care Centre celebrates its new Woodlands Garden

Rand Aid Association’s Ron Smith Care Centre celebrated the opening of its Woodlands Garden and its facilities on 20 April.

Board members, employees, residents and village committees celebrated the opening of the lovely landscaped area – which was designed by Anthony Schaffler from Schaffler Nurseries – and includes a beautiful new lapa, with braai facilities; a pavilion overlooking the new Astroturf croquet lawn; mini golf (putt-putt); and a jungle gym for children who visit their loved ones.

“The opening of Woodlands Gardens is another great occasion in the ongoing redevelopment, renovation and expansion of the Ron Smith Care Centre,” said John Robinson, Rand Aid’s chairman of the board.

Over the past five years the care centre has been transformed to offer even better care for elders and its redesign ensures that it is able to care for their special needs.

Robinson acknowledged that the introduction of the Eden Alternative has ensured this transformation.

“The enthusiasm, training and dedication of management and staff has contributed to making this one of the best care establishments of its type in Africa. The Ron Smith Care Centre has been recognised for its exemplary provision of care, facilities and services for the aged by the United Nations World Health Organisation,” he confirmed.

Part of the opening celebration involved the unveiling of a plaque, which acknowledges a heartfelt donation from Barry and Theresa Dubb, in honour of Barry’s mother Joyce Dubb, a resident at Ron Smith. When the Dubbs got married, they requested that donations be made to the care centre in lieu of wedding gifts and it is this funding which kick-started the garden project.

The croquet lawn and putt-putt course were officially opened when residents Sylvia Laserow hit a croquet ball through a wicket and Christine Kincaid-Smith attempted a putt-putt hole-in-one! A champagne toast, in honour of the new garden and facilities, followed.

The care centre’s employees concluded the event in traditional dress, singing a beautiful blessing for the garden.

Robinson is sure that Woodlands Garden is a welcome addition to the care centre and will bring much enjoyment and to residents and their families and friends.

Ron Smith Care Centre’s complex manager Helen Petrie invited guests to view the new widened bridge over the Jukskei River (the old one was destroyed by severe storms and flooding in November 2016) and said that it can now accommodate golf carts and wheelchairs. This increased accessibility will hopefully encourage more interaction between all of Rand Aid’s retirement villages.

Wedge Garden’s kings and their queen beat boredom

Things are a lot more black and white at Wedge Gardens treatment centre these days.

The long-anticipated giant outdoor chessboard has been completed and is being enjoyed by the gentlemen at Wedge Gardens.

“A special mention needs to be made of those individuals who made yet another occupational therapy department (OT) project possible,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the OT department and played a big role in the project. “Our thanks go to Rand Aid CEO Rae Brown and the Rand Aid Association, groundsman George Vermeulen and his team, as well as the patients at Wedge Gardens.”

Leisure boredom – or unproductive free time – is considered a precipitating factor in addiction and substance use. The OT department at Wedge Garden strives to instil balance within the lives of the patients at the rehabilitation facility by stressing that through meaningful occupational engagement, an individual is better able to cope with life stressors, feel a sense of worth and meaning within society and find enjoyment in healthy and constructive activity participation.

“Not only is the chessboard a space for the gentlemen to learn to use their time in a productive manner, but it is an area at Wedge Gardens where they can learn social and cognitive skills,” says Kendra.

It is a known fact that substance abuse negatively impacts cognitive health. “A chessboard is a fantastic mechanism to promote cognitive skills such as concentration and attention, memory, problem solving, judgement and executive tasks. Furthermore, as the game requires at least two players, the patients at Wedge are exposed to social interaction, which aids communication and conflict management skills,” says Kendra.

The OT department believes that through the creation and completion of projects such as the chessboard, the patients at Wedge Gardens learn numerous skills on an ongoing basis.

As such, they were involved in the planning and construction of the project and the procurement of donations. “A sense of altruism is instilled in the patients because when they end their treatment programme, they leave having been a part of a project that can be used by future patients.

“I am exceptionally proud of my patients and the work they have done to complete another OT project. Through encouraging proactive use of the facilities at Wedge Gardens, we are equipping our patients with skills for the re-integration into society, which is fundamental to any recovery programme.”

Sanca happily settled at Wedge Gardens

After relocating last year, the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) is settled in at Wedge Gardens treatment centre in Whitney Gardens, Lyndhurst, just outside of Johannesburg.

Both the Sanca National Office and the Sanca National Academy of Learning are based at Wedge Gardens, which is situated in extensive grounds easily accessible from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni.

Wedge Gardens officially become a member of the Sanca family in 2016 after going through the approval process with Sanca’s National Management Board.

“With the Sanca head office on the premises of Wedge Gardens, a closer working relationship has been established. Numerous clients have been referred for treatment through the website and WhatsApp helpline. In addition, other stakeholders visiting the National Sanca Office get to know about Wedge Gardens,” says Sanca spokesperson Adrie Vermeulen.

“Wedge Gardens offers a safe, secure and welcoming environment. We feel at home and have received excellent support from the maintenance and gardening services,” she adds.

“The management of Wedge Gardens, Ayanda Matthews and Adel Grobbelaar, has been wonderful and helped us settle in. It is a mutually supportive and beneficial relationship.

“As one of the oldest rehabilitation centres in the country, Wedge Gardens is one of the flagships of the type of services which should ideally be provided to treat substance use disorders in South Africa,” says Adrie.

Established in 1956, Sanca has a proud history of contributing to the prevention and treatment of alcohol and drug dependence. It has evolved over the years to meet modern challenges and today boasts an Academy of Learning that offers Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority-accredited courses for those who have a passion for working with people.

“We offer a basic counselling course and online courses,” says Adrie.

Sanca has a presence in eight of the country’s nine provinces. Wedge Gardens is one of 30 Sanca treatment centres.

“We are proud to be part of this hard-working and effective non-profit organisation,” says Ayanda.

* For further information on Sanca or to enrol for one of the courses offered, visit their website You can also use their WhatsApp helpline: 076 535 170.

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320 or visit their website:



Nursing veteran joins Wedge Gardens team

With two decades of experience in the healthcare field, Wedge Garden’s new deputy manager and professional charge nurse brings to the table a wealth of knowledge that complements the substance abuse treatment centre’s dedicated professional team.

Kempton Park resident Estelle Raath joined Wedge Gardens on February 1, 2018.

“As part of Wedge Garden’s multi-disciplinary team, I am hoping to add the experience gained in many disciplines to Wedge Gardens and to the patients,” she says.

One of her past positions was at another Gauteng-based rehabilitation centre. “I gained lots of experience in the field of addiction and found that I have an affinity for it.”

Estelle completed her B.Cur degree in 1995 through Potchefstroom University and registered as a nursing sister (general, community, midwifery and psychiatry).

During her training, she worked at various hospitals including Potchefstroom Hospital, Klerksdorp Hospital, Witrand Rehabilitation Centre, Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital, Tara Moross Psychiatric Hospital and various community nursing clinics.

Before joining Wedge Gardens, she was unit manager medical ward: Life Dalview Hospital. Before that she was nursing service manager: Elim Clinic. Estelle has vast experience in occupational health, as a maternity and labour ward sister and as a theatre sister. She also did a stint in Saudi Arabia.

A fan of evolving with the times, Estelle has completed a number of short courses.

Since starting at Wedge Gardens, everyone has welcomed me and made me feel as if I am an old colleague. Team members and all patients at Wedge are amazing and I am truly blessed to be working here,” she says.

Labyrinth smooths rehab’s rocky road

Wedge Gardens treatment centre’s occupational therapy (OT) department has stepped to it and completed is walking labyrinth.

“The aim was to provide an additional space for mindfulness practices at the Wedge Gardens to fuel and support the dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and mindfulness-based stress-reduction programmes that the OT department run every weekday morning,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the department.

Mindfulness and emotion regulation, which are skills of DBT, have been recognised as key components towards any recovery process. Fuelled by the desire to motivate and engage the patients at Wedge Gardens in mindfulness, Kendra began the process of collecting donations for the rocks needed to form the borders of the walking labyrinth.

“A huge thank you to Pebbles for Africa for their help in reducing the costs of two truckloads of rocks. Gratitude is also extended to all individuals (whose names are recorded around the labyrinth) for their contribution towards raising funds for the OT project, as well as to Rand Aid for its continued support.”

Kendra says the construction of the labyrinth was a rewarding process for all involved. “The patients were taught to take initiative during the construction process and as such were encouraged to work collaboratively – utilising communication and problem-solving skills, as well as frustration tolerance, in the formation of ideas and the implementation of action.

“The pride I have in my patients is huge. Not only have they shown investment in their recovery process by actively engaging in all elements of this project, but they have created a space that can be used for years to come by future recovering addicts and alcoholics. Mindfulness is an exceptionally powerful medium in developing skills that combat anxiety, depression and rumination as well as emotion regulation, self-compassion and awareness.”

Occupational therapists work through activities to help with awareness of self, skill development and the creation of functional, meaningful and goal-directed lives. Every project initiated by the OT department at Wedge Gardens is centred around optimal patient care and treatment.

“It is a fantastic experience seeing the change that occurs in an individual when they engage in something that stimulates passion, creativity and enthusiasm – and even more so when it promotes change in behaviour.”

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook ( or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)