‘I struggled to get clean while staying in White City as every second house there is either a tavern or a DRUG den’ – Spijo Makanvas

This photo was taken on the 19th May 2013 in Moletsane, at the height of my addiction. This was a few days after I had been kicked out of my mom’s house in White City Jabavu.  This came after she found a crack pipe in my jeans while doing laundry. The reason my moms kicked me out was that I had relapsed… again, and I lied to her with a straight face and reassured her on numerous occasions that I’m off the pipe and for good. Earlier that year after I hit one of my many rock bottoms, my moms took me in like she always does whenever I’ve hit rock bottom and was back home to detoxify and to try to get back up on my feet again.

From when I bought my first Mandrax button (Ndanda) in 1994 – 2004 to 2008 when I first took my first crack (Rock) hit to when I quit using all together in 2015, I had been battling bouts of serious DRUG addiction and relapses. Between ’94 and 2015 I had tried several times to get clean and relapsed over and over again.


I struggled to get clean while staying in White City as every second house there is either a tavern or a DRUG den, so when I moved to Moletsane, I made a solemn vow that I would aggressively put up a fight to get clean. As much as I had been struggling with ALCOHOL AND DRUG ADDICTION, I was also suffering from POST TRAUMATIC STRESS which stemmed from horrific experiences while growing up in Khumalo Street, Thokoza. I was young during the political violence of the late eighties to ’94. I witnessed the lawlessness and the devaluing of human life in the violent aftermath of the late ’90s. Over time, ALCOHOL AND DRUGS would become the right antidote or a form of escapism for me to cope with all the horrific scenes that were playing out in my head.


By 1997, I was already a high school dropout (Grade 11) and a juvenile delinquent. Between 2001 and 2003, a series of events took place that would also go to change the rest of my life and worsen my struggles with my mental health issues. In 2001, we had our firstborn Refiloe Azania with my high school sweetheart but we, unfortunately, lost the baby at 6 months old in 2002. I was broken to pieces and completely devastated.


On the 5th of June in 2003, we were blessed with our second-born Tshwarelo Aluta and when baby Tshwarelo was only 3 months old, her mom succumbed to Post Natal Depression and passed on. I was shattered to splinters and here I was at 23, just buried my beloved daughter and the first love of my life and my best friend in a space of two years and left with a 3-month-old infant and deep running scars. From then on my life would spiral out of control and I would seriously depend on mood-altering substances in order to numb the pain. It was only in 2015 shortly before I was convicted and sentenced to 12 years for a case I was out on bail for. It is then I finally made a concerted effort to get clean.


It really dawned on me that if I didn’t quit using substances, I would be a dead man and prison really gave me the time and the chance to detox and to confront (deal) with my mental health issues by undergoing therapy offered by various therapists within the prison system. So far I feel a whole lot better than when I was in active addiction and I’m steadily rebuilding my life brick by brick. Coming back from ALCOHOL AND DRUG ADDICTION is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever have to do. You’ve got to build your entire life from scratch. You’ll have to live on life’s terms. You will have to find strength within yourself because NOBODY can do this for you. Just don’t ever lose FAITH and HOPE… because it’s POSSIBLE!.

Spijo Makanvas is an ex-convict and recovering addict who has been clean for more than 6 years. He is an advocate for the reformation of communities especially ex-prisoners and drug addicts. He will write more about his experiences and take us through his life with the purpose of inspiring and helping the young generation to not make the mistakes he made. 


About Rewo Banele

Before we can educate the youth about business, we need to confront the challenges that are constantly destroying the youth before they even begin looking towards trying entrepreneurship. I was once a young man who needed someone to show me the potential I possessed as a young man growing up in the township. Today I am an Entrepreneur, Author and Executive Producer with a passion to educate young people in the township about their potential and challenges through entrepreneurial and substance abuse content. This is why I have dedicated part of this website to address issues of substance abuse and crime. Only after addressing these can we have hope to inspire young people into entrepreneurship.

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