Inside rehab detention camp
NEWS24.COZA, May 17, 2001

17/05/2001 23:32- (SA)

SINISTER: Pictures taken at the Noupoort Christian care center by Gerhard Louw of Die Volksblad.

Noupoort - "Welcome to Midlandia. You do not need to lock your motor car," were the words with which Louis, one of the staff at Noupoort's Christian care centre for drug and alcohol addicts, welcomed Die Volksblad to the centre's so-called punishment camp on Thursday.

He said it was the first time that anyone from the media had been allowed there.

Large stop signs, a guard, and chained American pit bulls greet the visitor before one rides between massive old railway buildings and then along a winding gravel road to the isolated detention camp.

American pit bulls greet the visitor

More chained dogs, the hand-built obstacle course on which the drug addicts are punished, and the "cell" in which Logan Klingenberg, 16, of Pretoria, was found dead tied to a chain, await whoever lands up in the camp.

"Authorised personnel only. Welcome to Midlandia" and "Disciplinary Barracks" are the signs at the entrance to the sleeping quarters. Inside the building are texts written on the walls and another slogan, "Remember the last time man ignored a warning".

'Gladiator track'

According to Louis, the obstacle course is based on the principles of a "gladiator track" and it involves crawling, swinging on ropes, running over railway sleepers, over old railway trucks and high obstacles on ropes within 12 to 15 minutes.

Louis also refers to "Fishpaste Hill" where "detainees" have to run up and down a steep incline.

Hard labour is also done in the camp, like repairing roads. Another strange task for the addicts is to build stone piles with stones which have to be fetched from the lower end of a hill. These piles stand in rows along the winding road to the camp.

A collection of "memorial stones" is apparently where the addicts have "buried" their bad habits.

The addicts sent to the detention camp are given boots and overalls so that they do not damage their clothing.

'Hardest camp in the country'

"This is the hardest camp in the country - we do not deny that. Come with me for an hour and you will see how you feel tomorrow. Everything is very physical. It is like that so that you can feel - we want to bring back discipline as in the army," said Louis.

Staff, however, emphasised that addicts who have transgressed are not assaulted or tortured. People are sometimes disciplined with slaps.

"If someone attacks me with a knife, I will defend myself," said a senior staff member.

Obstacle course

He said the addicts in the detention camp start their day with cleaning, Bible study and a 5km run. Later they receive porridge and bread for breakfast after which they do ordinary tasks until their food has digested. Then comes more running and other physical exercises, like the obstacle course.

For lunch they receive either lamb, stew or fish. Supper constitutes dishes like pasta or pizza.

Wooden sleepers [railroad ties] carried in 'dog walk'

He admitted that the wooden sleepers have to be carried around in the so-called "dog walk" when people are in the detention camp. It was denied that food or sleep were withheld from the addicts.

The staff member said addicts could end up in the detention camp if they ran away or if a disciplinary committee found that they should be sent there.

The words "RIP Logan" were written in the sand at the sleeping quarters - evidence of the tragic end of Logan Klingenberg's time after he tried to run away from the centre.


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