People found dealing in nyaope, or in possession of nyaope or other altered drugs can now be prosecuted, the Department of Justice said on Tuesday.
Spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said this came after Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi signed off on the amendment of the Drugs and Trafficking Act on March 28.
Prior to the Act being amended, there were no laws in place to deal with new narcotic substances which were created by modifying a substance's chemical structure to varying degrees, or finding chemicals with entirely different chemical structures that produce similar effects.
Mhaga stated that in the instance of nyaope, a person could be charged for unlawfully being in possession of ARVs 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 this amended Act was not just limited to nyaope, but was designed to include all other altered drug mixtures which may 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. - Sapa