Inside the dark world of drug addiction

SUPPORT … Linwill van Wyk with friends Mario Thaniseb and Salomon Josef. Photos: Contributed

Some have lost their houses and cars, others have almost lost their lives. These are the men and women who have battled drug addiction and lived to tell the story.

IT is a life Linwill van Wyk (36) knows all too well.

You take one hit, and suddenly you need a second one.

His habit eventually left him paralysed from the chest down.

While some of his friends paid with their lives, Van Wyk says he is glad he got out alive.

“I never thought I would be in this situation,” he says.

Van Wyk says he was a police officer before he was paralysed.

Today he continues to work for the police as a liaison officer and chaplain at Narraville Police Station.

“I want the youth to be careful. I am here because of my recklessness, and my friends eventually died,” he says.
Van Wyk says he had a rough upbringing.

His mother died when he was six years old, and he and his younger brother did not have a close relationship with their father.

He moved to Keetmanshoop to live with his older sister, and adopted a lifestyle of using drugs and alcohol at the age of 10.


“I became addicted to crack cocaine. Miraculously, I passed Grade 12 with 28 points in 2006. I started working at the then Ministry of Finance as a taxation officer in 2009, but quit in 2012 because of drugs.

“My high school girlfriend got pregnant while in Grade 12, and I had to stay with my daughter while she studied. After completing her studies, she started working at a bank and supported me.

“I was eventually selected for police training and became a police officer in 2016, but started to use drugs again,” he says.

Four months later, a car Van Wyk was travelling in with five friends on payday overturned due to the driver’s drunken driving.


It left him paralysed from his chest down.

“Two years after the accident, one of my friends was stabbed. Another was killed coming from a club, and more of my friends died in such circumstances.

“The accident was a warning, but we did not listen.”


Van Wyk says the drugs made him do the unimaginable.

“I became abusive to my family. I got sick after a weekend of partying and was taken to a hospital, where I decided to confide in one of the doctors.

“He offered to help me if I promised to be serious. He counselled me and recommended a psychiatrist, while introducing me to God. I eventually gave my life to Jesus and was never the same again,” he says.

Dr Chris Fourie, who has helped Van Wyk, says he is proud of him.

“He had extreme struggles when I met him. The way he is now serving and sharing his experience makes me excited about what the future holds,” he says.

Lindsay Ackermann


Lindsay Ackermann is another recovered addict.

She has been sober for the past 23 years, but says fighting addiction has been an uphill battle.

She arrived at Walvis Bay from South Africa in 1984, studied and started working for the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety an Security until she became the head of immigration.

“I did very well. After the reintegration of Walvis Bay I invested my pension money in a Norwegian refrigeration company. I went to Norway for training and became a shareholder.

“One night at the age of 36, my friends visited. They knew I would not touch heavy drugs, but convinced me to try.
“I tried one hit of crack cocaine and felt on top of the world,” she says.

Ackermann says she later started using it alone.

She would spend between N$1 000 and N$30 000 on crack cocaine.

She says she gradually started losing weight and became dysfunctional, which led her partner to sending her off to rehab in South Africa in 2000.

“I was a very difficult client and ended up staying longer. The rehab suggested that I stay with my parents who had a lodge in South Africa. I worked for my parents as a labourer.

“They made it tough on me, but it was necessary. I, however, had someone in Namibia who was sending me drugs,” she says.

Ackermann returned to Namibia and realised she had lost her house, vehicles and shares.

“I rented an outside room from a Spanish friend and worked at a nightclub in the evening.

“Fortunately, God blessed me with a job at the Spanish government in 2001,” she says.

A doctor then approached her to partner with him in a rehabilitation centre.

She became a shadow councillor at the South African rehabilitation centre where she was previously counselled and returned to open a centre at Swakopmund.

“Eight years later my doctor partner was unfortunately arrested for false claims, and I lost everything again. I got another offer at the Okonguarri Psychotherapeutic Centre in 2015, until 2023 when I lost my daughter to suicide,” she says.

Ackermann says she then started Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund.

“I remind myself every day that I am an addict . . .

“When I met this drug, I thought I would enjoy the trip. It rather took me to hell,” she says.

She urges those who are addicted to talk about it.

MOTIVATION … Linwill van Wyk engages the youth in discussions on drug and alcohol abuse.


Wally Strauss started drinking and smoking when he was 14 years old. His lifestyle affected his academic life negatively, so he decided to stop drinking after completing Grade 12.

“I enrolled for a diploma in storekeeping and stock control and another in commerce. I even became the best student in one of the courses. However, I started drinking again.

“Seven years later, I almost committed suicide,” he says.

Strauss says he joined Alcoholics Anonymous in 2005 and has been sober for 18 years.

He completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has a good job, he says.

“We are now running a Christian-based programme that also has the AA steps. It is amazing what God can do,” he says.
Walvis Bay community educator Hubert Mukosho says substance abuse cases are worrying.

“From February, we received 29 cases, with the youngest being nine years old. It is also increasing crime,” he says.

MEMORIES … Linwill van Wyk as a young police officer.


The Namibian Police have arrested 112 people in connection with illegal substances to the value of about N$9 million in December last year.

Another arrest was made in March 2023 at Keetmanshoop, involving two Namibian men who were found in possession of almost 21kg of cannabis at Tseiblaagte.

In January this year, two Congolese men were arrested at Otjomuise following the discovery of illegal substances with a value of N$930 500.

In June 2023, a truck bound for Namibia was seized at Upington in South Africa with contraband and illegal substances weighing a total of 1 4434kg, with an estimated street value of R3,6 million.

South African Michael Mpangela was arrested at the Hosea Kutako International Airport by customs officials in January 2023, and a Namibian woman was arrested in January this year at Bole international aiport in Adis Ababa for suspected cocaine trafficking.

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