Johannesburg - Gauteng community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko has welcomed legislative amendments declaring nyaope an illegal drug.
“The move clearly demonstrates that government is on course in winning the war on nyaope,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.
The department would help rehabilitate those willing to live a drug-free life. More than 280 addicts had gone through the department's rehabilitation programme since 2011, she said.
“An additional 150 enrolled to pursue skills development in beauty therapy, computer courses, sound engineering, and conflict management.”
On Tuesday, the justice department announced that people found dealing in or possessing nyaope or other altered drugs could be prosecuted.
Spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said this came after Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi signed off on the amendment to the Drugs and Trafficking Act on March 28.
Prior to the act being amended, there were no laws in place to deal with new narcotics created by modifying a substance's chemical structure, or finding chemicals with entirely different chemical structures that produced similar effects.
Mhaga said in the case of nyaope, a person could be charged for unlawfully being in possession of antiretrovirals and heroin. The two drugs were some of the substances that were combined to make the cheap street drug.
“The court can impose a fine or jail term not exceeding 15 years for use or possession,” Mhaga said.
“But for dealing, you can get a fine or 25 years' imprisonment.”
Mhaga explained that the amendments were not just limited to nyaope but were designed to include all other drug mixtures which might surface in future.
“We hope that crimes related to these drugs like nyaope will decrease. We are dealing not just with users of the drugs but with dealers too,” said Mhaga.