Pubdate: Thu, 16 Aug 2012
Source: New Age, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2012 TNA Media (Pty.)
Author: Bongekile Skosana


Addicts who are trying to quit their addictions have pointed out 
various places in Atteridgeville where the infamous homemade nyaope 
drug is sold.

A group of youngsters between the ages of 16 and 25, who have been 
using the drug for more than six years, have spoken out about their 
life of hell.

All they want now is to help eradicate nyaope, which makes users 
aggressive and violent, from their community.

"Kwape/nyaope is easily accessible in the township. On every corner 
there is a dealer so it is difficult for one to get off the drug. 
There are more than 10 houses here that sell the drug," said self 
confessed nyaope user Karabo Mphela.

Eric Masango, 24, who has been using the drug since he was 13 years 
old, said he began using nyaope in 2004 when his peers were still 
fascinated by smoking dagga mixed with heroin (the "bottle kop").

"When I started smoking I was popular, my peers would say I smoked 
drugs used by ngamla's (wealthy people), but now I know that this was 
not good for me," he said.

The drug users said they would compare the drug to a virus that 
destroys the lives of all who come into contact with it.

"We want to quit but it is highly risky and difficult for us, because 
some members in the community do not care any more.

"They know who the dealers are but fail to engage them or even report 
them to the police," they said.

Masango said he had realised that drug dealers did not care about the 
addiction of their clients.

"The dealers make almost R60000 a day through us. They never run out 
of stock because there is a huge demand for the drug. We spent almost 
R300 a day to buy this stuff because if we do not smoke we get 
frustrated and opt to steal or wash cars to support the habit," said Masango.

The users said this was the reason they wanted to go to 
rehabilitation centres, but they cannot afford to pay, and are told 
the waiting lists are long.

"I want to go to rehab and start a new life, I can no longer take the 
pain of living this way. My parents never wanted me to be this way," 
said Masango.

The disgruntled users are now willing to point out the drug dens, 
provided their safety is guaranteed. There are at least 10 houses 
they said they knew operating as drug dens in Atteridgeville, west of 
Pretoria. There are about 1.7 million people living in Atteridgeville.

A drug activist from the community, Abel Pega, said the 
Atteridgeville Local Drug Action committee and various non-profit 
organisations had been battling with solving the substance and drug 
abuse phenomenon for many years, but the members of the community 
failed to respond to their call.

"We marched to the police station last year to hand over a memorandum 
of demands, pressuring the police to act urgently on the drug issues, 
but the march had a poor attendance and it seems the police have 
ignored the call to fight this," said Pega.

Pega said he has been sending letters to the mayor of Tshwane 
Kgosientso Ramokgopa since late 2010, asking him to partner with the 
municipality to help fight the drug and substance abuse in the 
community but he has not had a response to date.

"The police know the dealers and are working with them. Every time we 
tip them off about the dealership points they arrest them, but in 
less than a day the dealers are back on the street," said Pega.

He claimed "the police and courts dismiss the cases by saying the 
nyaope is not a drug and does not fall under the Drug Act of South Africa".

However, Atteridgeville police spokesperson Capt Thomas Mufumadi 
dismissed Pega's claims and said the police were doing everything in 
their power to eradicate the drug.

"We have stop and search patrols every day and we have arrested many 
drug dealers. We urge the community to join hands with the police," he said.

Mufumadi said if the community had any information regarding dealers 
they should not be afraid to report it to the police or the station commander.

"People must start fighting because we want to eradicate this thing 
in our community and when they tip us off, we can investigate the 
matter further," he said.

Contacted for comment, the mayor's office said: "The office of the 
executive mayor is taking note of the alleged accusations from 
non-profit organisations regarding issues of the eradication of drug 
abuse in the township."

Pieter de Necker, mayoral spokesperson and information officer, said: 
"The executive mayor recognises that the problem of drug abuse knows 
no area and no colour.

"The problem is affecting not just townships, but various areas in the metro.

"The executive mayor, Kgosientso Ramokgopa has in the past and will 
continue in the future to be outspoken about the danger of drug usage.

"Any organisation in the city that is fighting drug abuse is 
encouraged to join hands with the city of Tshwane's health and social 
development department," said De Necker
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom