‘Jelly Babies’ drug lures kids
Durban - Drug lords in Chatsworth have stooped to new lows in a greed-fuelled bid to expand their market for narcotics by enticing young school children with a new drug that can be easily mistaken for sweets.
The so-called “Jelly Babies” drug is apparently a concoction of dagga, pseudoephedrine, alcohol, gelatine, sugar and critic acid. It looks similar to a popular type of soft sugar jelly sweet.
“It looks just like the Jelly Babies sweets, only bigger. The scary reality is that children in primary school are most vulnerable to taking the drug because of what it looks like,” said Vee Ganie, chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal Parents’ Association.
“All it takes is one bite into it and pupils can get hooked.”
According to drugs.com, pseudoephedrine is a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels in the nasal passages. It is used to treat nasal and sinus congestion, or congestion of the tubes that drain fluid from your inner ears.
The website warns that it must not be taken in certain situations as a dangerous drug interaction could occur, leading to serious side effects. It adds: “Do not use this medication if you are allergic to pseudoephedrine or to other decongestants, diet pills, stimulants, or ADHD medications.”
Ganie said school authorities had been tight-lipped about the drug.
“Schools tend to keep this under the radar and try to contain it in order not to tarnish the name of the school.
“When a school is linked to drugs it impacts on future admissions because parents will think twice before enrolling their children into the school.”
KZN Department of Education spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said the drug was being peddled not only in Chatsworth, where a home drug lab was uncovered in the Umhlatuzana suburb on Friday night, but at schools around KZN.
Three suspects were arrested.
“We are still investigating if this drug has been sold to any school children, what it costs and the side effects,” he said.
“We are working hand in hand with police to ensure that we clamp down on drugs in schools. Acting on tip-offs from other pupils and the community, we can safely say that more arrests are imminent.”
Police spokeswoman Lieutenant Nqobile Gwala said gas guns were also recovered from the drug lab.
Mahlambi said the department was aware that pupils had been roped in to sell the drug at schools.
“These pupils will be arrested and charged for their part in drug peddling. Principals and teachers have been made aware of the drug, and of our intention to prosecute pupils who are found in possession of the drug.”
Gordon Govender of the Chatsworth Schools Forum could not confirm whether the drug Jelly Babies was being distributed in schools, but said principals were taking a zero tolerance approach to the issue.
“The Department of Education held a workshop recently and principals were given a handbook detailing what drugs to look out for, what they look like and how to deal with pupils who are found in possession of these substances.”
Govender, who is also the principal of Wingen Heights Secondary in Shallcross, said each school had a policy detailing how they dealt with drugs.
Three men, aged between 27 and 39, were to appear in the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court this week on charges of possession of drugs.