Fears grow as 'zombie' drug hits Durban
Known as “flakka” or the “zombie drug”, it is a hallucinogenic drug that causes panic and hysteria. Hundreds of videos have surfaced on social media showing users in a state of panic, unable to talk or understand what is going on around them.
They are unresponsive and pose a danger to themselves and others.
It is believed that dealers have already been selling flakka or “gravel” as it is also known, because of its look and feel, in Wentworth, Chatsworth and Pinetown.
A source revealed that in Chatsworth, three men had to be taken to hospital after taking it.
It is alleged that one of the men attacked a woman, biting off a chunk of her arm. Another is reported to have suffered heart failure, with his heartbeat returning a short while later.
The source said the men were at a party when they were offered the drug.
“We received a call from relatives who were concerned for the men’s health and safety. They were trying to climb the walls and hallucinating.
“The men were restrained and taken to hospital. At the hospital, they were not aware of what was going around them. They were strapped in the hospital beds but were asking nurses which fruit they must pick from the trees,” the source said.
It took five days for the drugs to be fully flushed out of their systems.
Police questioned them once they were able to communicate again. They were able to tell police where they got the drugs from and a sting was set up.
It is believed that an undercover agent then went to the house and made a purchase. A suspected dealer, 32-year-old Chikudipidia Steven Nwose, was arrested.
He was allegedly found with 10 bags of flakka, 10 bags of ecstasy, a cellphone and R1 600 cash. He has since appeared in court and was remanded pending his next appearance.
Sam Pillay of the Anti-Drug Forum said it was devastating that flakka was now being sold in Durban.
“This drug has caused so much damage in other parts of the world and now it is here. These users had almost demonic-like behaviour and it took about six men to restrain just one person. This drug has been called the ‘gateway to hell’ because of the actions of the user. It is like they have superhuman strength,” he said.
Pillay said flakka had a serious impact on the community and posed a great danger not only to the users because of their behaviour, but also to their friends and family.
“The user is left in this state for a long time,” he said.
Pillay explained that flakka can be taken in a tablet form or snorted when in powder form.
Flakka is priced from R400 to R1 000.
It is a synthetic stimulant made from cathinone - an amphetamine-like drug found in bath salts. Cathinone has been banned and the drug-makers are using a similar substance called alpha-PVP instead.
According to Dr Lana Wilkinson, flakka is a highly addictive stimulant.
“It is associated with many adverse side-effects such as heart palpitations, increased blood pressure and neurological manifestations like paranoia, psychosis, agitation and super-human strength. Long-term side effects are renal failure and depression.”
In August last year a teenager in Florida, US, stabbed a couple and ate the man’s face. Austin Harrouf is believed to have taken the drug before killing the couple.
It took four police officers to apprehend the 19-year-old student.
Parents have been asked to keep an eye on their children and report any suspicious behaviour to police.