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Hesketh King Centre gives hope to end cycle of addiction

Monday 23 July 2012  I  For immediate release

A spike in gang violence in some Cape Town suburbs over the last few months has focused efforts on overcoming alcohol and drug addiction. One such initiative is the Salvation Army’s Hesketh King Treatment Centre which is providing a hopeful alternative to the seemingly endless cycle of addiction.

Situated in the heart of the Boland, twelve kilometres from Stellenbosch, the Centre provides a peaceful rural atmosphere for its individualised treatment.

Hesketh King offers two Christian-based residential programmes for up to 60 men suffering from alcohol or drug addiction: a 12-week treatment programme is suitable for men from 21 years of age, and an 8-week programme is on offer for young men between the ages of 16 and 20.

A multi-disciplinary team provides a range of therapies with a focus on outcomes based therapy together with life-skills education. The team of therapists includes social workers, nursing staff, addiction counsellors, pastoral counsellors, clinical psychologists and volunteers.

Recovery on the spiritual, emotional and physical levels is addressed through The Salvation’s Army’s Christian 12-step programme.

According to Major Valerie Potgieter of the Hesketh King Centre, referrals can be made by medical and other helping professionals, family members or by self-referral.

“The criteria for admission are a primary diagnosis of alcohol or drug addiction; a physical and psychological ability to undergo treatment for the set duration, and a willingness to give the principles of the programme – honesty, responsibility and a willingness to change – a chance,” she added.

The impact of the programme is evident in the lives of many of the patients who have been through the Hesketh King Centre. One such story is that of Shaun (surname withheld), one of a family of eight children.

“At the age of five my parents moved to Atlantis on the west coast with hopes of a better life. We lived what is considered a normal life in our community: both parents were weekend alcoholics, my two brothers were addicted to mandrax and were involved with gangsters,” he says.

A promising academic record came to nothing when Shaun dropped out of school to help support his parents, and he had to let go of his dreams to become an architect to take a 12-hour shift job in a cardboard factory.

As he grew older, drinking fuelled a life of alcohol, women and violence. Sadly, his father, with whom he had a special relationship died, when he was 26, and, with the loss of his only true friend and teacher, his life “took a weird turn”.

Marriage and two daughters followed, but then he was introduced to crystal methamphetamine (commonly known as tik). Two months later, he was unemployed, had lost his house, his family, his children, and all hope.

“I started living a life of lies, theft, scams and day-to-day ‘skarrel’ going for my next fix. Until one day, still separated from my wife and kids, while my wife was in rehab, I was crossing this field one morning. I saw three little girls, the eldest was about 5, the middle one about 3, and the baby about 18 months old. The eldest was holding both her sisters’ hands and slowly and very sadly walking in my direction with their heads bowed, very dirty and poorly dressed.

“My heart went out to these three barefoot children coming my way. When I reached them and they looked up at me, my heart burst in a million pieces as I realised it was my three angels coming from my mom’s house in search of me. They looked so lost and scared; they looked like orphans, but both their parents were still alive.

“That day was the turning point. I applied for help and was taken up at The Salvation Army Hesketh King Treatment Centre. And my life changed forever. I got sober for the first time in seven years.”

Having gone through the 12-step programme, Shaun was able to go back home and start a new life with a second chance. He started a support group that has grown to over 40 people and found a job nine months after his rehabilitation.

“Last year, I bought my first car and got my driver’s licence at the age of 37, all thanks to God’s grace that gave me sobriety. It was tough but worth it,” he says.

For assistance with a drug or alcohol addiction, contact The Salvation Army Hesketh King Treatment Centre at 021 88 44 600/1.The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by love for God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination.


The Southern Africa Territory of The Salvation Army encompasses four countries – South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland – and the island of St Helena. Its officers, soldiers and full-time employees provide their spiritual and community services through approximately 230 corps (churches), societies and outposts, as well as through schools, hospitals, institutions for children, street children, the elderly, men and abused women, and daycare, goodwill, rehabilitation and social centres.


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