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A renewed crackdown looms against the scourge of nyaope use following a tightening of the law which will ensure tough sentences for offenders.
News that law enforcers have resolved to deal decisively with the manufacture and possession of nyaope – as well as other altered drugs – has been welcomed by stakeholders and organisations dealing with drugs and their effects.
They said the announcement was a step in the right direction.
Nyaope use has had a devastating effect on townships and other communities across the country in the eight years since it reared its ugly head.
Gauteng, in particular Pretoria, has been identified as the capital of nyaope production and use.
Described as “crack with a sickening twist”, dealers and users have been known to mix a combination of heroin, detergents, ARVs and, in some quarters, battery fluid and/or rat poison. One user said it was part of everyday culture in the townships.
He said it was a drug of poverty.
Many families have suffered since it became the street drug of choice for many young people.
The Department of Justice this week announced an amendment of the Drugs and Trafficking Act, making it possible for those found in possession of the drug to be fined, or face a jail term of 15 years.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi signed an amendment of the act on March 28.
Dealers in the lethally concocted drug face up to 25 years’ imprisonment, Justice spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said.
The Central Drug Authority’s (CDA) spokesman Peter Ucko said: “We applaud any effort by the justice system to prosecute, and prosecute quickly, in the fight against drugs.”
He said whatever action was taken to arrest dealers and manufacturers and put them in jail would help meet the three purposes of the CDA: reducing the supply of the drugs; reducing demand; and, reducing harm.
Michael Krige, of the Pretoria drug rehabilitation centre Extreme Freedom Foundation, said
the use of nyaope resulted in broken families.
Existing laws around getting dealers off the street were ineffective, he said, because offenders were often released on bail a day after being arrested, allowing them to disappear and continue with business. “We find them everywhere, in every school corner. Children as young as 10 use and deal in nyaope,” said Krige.
It takes between 12 and 15 months for addicts to get rehabilitated.
The faith-based organisation said it went beyond dealing with the symptoms: “We look into why they got hooked in the first place and try to get to the core of the problem.”
If this wasn’t done, it was only a matter of time before they went back to using the drug.
Nyaope is a drug of choice for many youths. Adults who had, for example, smoked dagga sometimes moved to it, for the added effects.
Said Krige: “It becomes highly addictive after only a week of use.” Initial feelings of euphoria were replaced by unbearable pain, so users had to take it many times a day. “And then they take more to get high.”
Nyaope addicts have been known to turn to violence and crime to feed their addiction.
Many youngsters who are hooked become unruly and anti-social. In many cases, they turn against authority figures, including their parents and caregivers.
Pretoria AND NYAOPE
* Pretoria is labelled the capital of nyaope.
* The drug originated in 2006 in Soshanguve, Atteridgeville and Mamelodi.
* Community members reported that some city children as young as 6 were addicted to nyaope.
* It is popular among lower-income groups in the townships. This is because it is so cheap – usually R30 a hit/fix.
* Businesses in the northern areas of the Pretoria CBD and Marabastad say an explosion of nyaope on the streets – resulting in crime and grime – is to blame for killing off business in the inner city.
* Brown Street in the CBD is filled with nyaope smokers and dealers who are openly doing business on the street.
* Residents in Mamelodi held a protest march in March last year and climbed the nearby Moretele Park mountains in a campaign called, Hike Against Nyaope. It was organised by the Mamelodi Second Chance Rehabilitation Centre.
* In March 2010, two Pretoria women were arrested in connection with selling nyaope to primary school children in Hebron near Mabopane.
* In August last year, a warder at the Pretoria Central Prison was arrested for his involvement in a drug smuggling syndicate. He was found with 49 sachets of nyaope in his possession.
* There is a Facebook page called “Atteridgeville (Kasi Ya Nyaope)”.
The ingredients of nyaope differ from place to place. It is a combination of some of the following:
* Third-grade heroin
* Crystal meth
* Rat poison (Rattex)
* Bicarbonate of soda
* Detergent powder
* Crushed ARVs
* Battery acid
* Milk powder
* Pool cleaner
SYMPTOMS of Nyaope users
* Isolation – like a lot of drug users, nyaope users separate themselves from family and friends.
* Rebellious attitude – they shun authority and easily and readily start arguments with parents and authority figures.
* They do not seem to know right from wrong and do not believe in doing what is right.
* Their appearance changes – they stop worrying about their presentation to society and become untidy, dirty and slack.
* Red eyes and runny noses are other symptoms.