Johannesburg - For Soweto resident, Thamsanqa*, street sex pills are a lucrative business.
Man King, M16, Auto, Powerball, African Banana – you name it, he sells it.
“M16 is the most popular with my clients. It’s three pills in a pack – you drink two and arousal lasts the whole week. If you want to awaken the feeling, you just drink water,” he says, staring through the window of his salon.
Dressed casually, Thamsanqa’s appearance belies the type of trade he does.
He is one man in a growing township culture of wheeling and dealing sex pills to young adults looking to have fun, unaware of the consequences.
His clients – who range between 20 and 60 years old – know they can get a one-pill pack of Man King or M16 for R50.
“I don’t sell the expensive ones,” he smiles. “I sell the ones I’m sure of.”
He is just a phone call away and he’ll deliver to his clients.
But with the goods comes a warning.
“Like with Auto, I know its causes headaches with some clients. It is good, it’s one of those you take when you are going to be active and want to make a statement. But you can’t use it always, otherwise you’ll get hurt,” he says.
So potent is this pill Thamsanqa says he advises clients that after two or three days from the day they ingest it, they ought to flush it out of their systems by drinking lots of water.
In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public notification that Man King contained the undeclared drug ingredient, sildenafil.
“The FDA is advising consumers not to purchase or use Man King, a product for sexual enhancement sold on various websites.
“FDA laboratory analysis confirmed that Man King contains sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, an FDA approved prescription drug for erectile dysfunction,” the statement read.
It continued: “Sildenafil may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs such as nitroglycerin and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.”
It advised that consumers stop using the pill immediately and throw it away.
Thamsanqa isn’t aware of this, nor are his clients.
“The younger clients use them because they just want to have fun in their relationships or encounters. Women also come if they feel their men aren’t as good as they should be. The pills aren’t marked so their husbands or boyfriends never realise what it is,” he says.
Andile*, a DJ, says that as long as the pills are sold in herbal stores, he will never go to a shop.
“I have my suppliers, and I’m used to calling them – we’re friends. This whole thing is part of our lifestyles. We live hectic lives, I’m a DJ – and with a hectic nightlife, your sex drive becomes low and I don’t go to the gym,” he says matter-of-factly.
Yet Andile doesn’t think he has a sexual or erection problem.
“I’ve never thought of buying Viagra because it would be like I have a problem. My sex drive is low, but I don’t have erectile dysfunction. We as friends questioned ourselves once on what we’d do if these pills backfired and our ‘things’ didn’t stand up when we’re older, but we soon dismissed it,” he says.
The Star could not find manufacturer details or contact numbers for any of the products.
Use of street products can result in date rape
When Sipho Maja saw the damage street sex pills were doing to his peers, he decided to take action.
Pills such as M16, Man King and Powerball had become all the rage among young men wanting to experiment and “have fun”, but many were unaware of the consequences, and those who were, kept quiet.
“There are a lot of wrong pills in the market, they are in good packaging and look decent. But, we had clients who complained pills such as Man King and Auto were making them sick,” Maja said.
Maja and business partner Luyanda Motswagae own Bahati Marketing and Distribution, and through the company, distribute a condom and pleasure-enhancing tablet line which is sold at fuel stations nationally.
They boast that their pleasure enhancers are naturally made, with a list of the ingredients on the packaging, no artificial flavouring is used and they provide an energy boost, which in turn boosts libido.
“The problem in most situations is that us blacks (men) we don’t talk. We don’t communicate, even when we have a problem. People must take a stand against these street sex pills and talk about their side-effects, what if when you are 45 years old you find your 4-5 (penis) doesn’t work because of these pills?”
Motswagae street sex pills were being sold at township nightclubs without users knowing the side-effects when used with liquor.
Date rape was a real possibility while on the street sex pills, Maja said.
“The thing is the man will buy the pill, take it expecting sex that night from their date and when the woman refuses, one has already lost patience because they are on a pill high.”