File image

Pretoria - Beatle juice, a white substance widely used in Gauteng for getting rid of lice and nits, contains poison and is not fit for human consumption, Pretoria police warned on Wednesday.

“Friponil is a poison that is used in agricultural and veterinary farming surroundings and is not for human use,” said Wonderboom police spokeswoman Wanda Olivier.

“(The) unregistered substance, that is administered orally, (is) being sold to (get) rid of head lice and nits, and is especially used on children of all ages experiencing this problem.”

The product, a bitter substance which enters the blood stream when applied, kills the head lice and is in high demand by teachers, creches and parents.

“The spreading and usage of this poison for use on children must be stopped immediately,” she said.

Police and the health department last week carried out an operation to try and catch the alleged manufacturer. On Friday, three officers and members of the department followed up on information relating to the substance.

“Members were led to an address in the Daspoort area from where the product was allegedly packaged and distributed,” said Olivier.

“Members ordered 20 beatle juice units for the purpose of the investigation... On collection of the said units it was made known why they were ordered.”

Olivier said when police entered the premises, they found a container with the milky white substance.

“The liquid was not labelled or named, but the suspect admitted that this was the liquid that he was 1/8allegedly 3/8 advertising, packaging, selling, and spreading as the so-called beatle juice,” she said.

Police confiscated the 20 units it ordered as well as other containers. It has been sent for forensic testing.

Olivier said a 40-year-old man was arrested for dealing and packaging the unregistered medicinal substance.

“The suspect did not want to tell members what the ingredients of the liquid were. He only said that it was a secret. Later on he wrote the name 'Regent 200 SC' down.”

Police established that the main ingredient of this was Friponil.

The estimated street value of substance seized was around R70 000. He appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Monday, and the case was provisionally withdrawn pending the outcome of the laboratory report.

“Should a parent be concerned about their children’s health, they can take their children that already used the liquid poison to their local doctors for examination,” said Olivier.

“The continuation of this product on children can lead to various criminal cases such as attempted murder, and other complaints under the Children's Act.”

Health department spokesman Simon Zwane could not be reached for comment.