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Nyaope: an addict’€™s story

Written by Tshilidzi Tuwani

TSHWANE. – Daniel Vilakazi is a 19-year-old from Soshanguve where he lives in Block TT with his parents. He is also a recovering drug addict who was until recently a regular user of a concoction called nyaope.

Daniel isn’€™t sure about the ingredients used to make the drug, but indicates that it is very dangerous and addictive.   Nyaope is a cocktail of, among other things, rat poison, dagga, heroin and antiretroviral medication, and is commonly used by teenagers in the streets of the Tshwane townships of Soshanguve, Attridgeville and Mamelodi.

According to Daniel, he started using the drug in 2008 while he was in Grade 9 and carried on using it until he was in Grade 11 when his family started to realise that there was a problem.   His father says that his son use to come home after school and go straight to bed without eating anything.   Then while everyone was asleep he would wake up   to take their household   appliances like irons, television and radio to sell to neighbours in order to get some money for his next fix.

Eventually his father started suspecting something was wrong and decided to monitor his son carefully. One day he followed Daniel on his way to school and saw him going into a house where he bought the day’€™s fix. His father confiscated the drugs.

When three young men from his neighbourhood died from suspected nyaope use, Daniel decided to get his life back together.

He sought assistance from the Department of Social Welfare who admitted him to a rehabilitation centre in Cullinan in Mpumalanga where he spent 12 weeks.

Daniel says that currently he feels strong and doesn’€™t want to take the drug anymore.   ‘€œWhat really helps is the people I hang out with and my family because they keep me strong always,’€ he said.

At the moment Daniel is not in school and not working either. He believes that nyaope has ruined the lives of many youths around Block TT, and that his own life would have been much better if he was never introduced to it.

‘€œWhen I started it was fun, but then I got hooked and with time it got worse and today my future looks bleak,’€says Daniel.

But his father has not given up on his son. ‘€œI wish he could grow up to be a professional electrician or something because his mind was sharp at school. The nyaope addiction has robbed me of my son.’€

The community feels that those selling the concoction should be sent to jail because it destroys people’€™s lives and leads youngsters to do criminal activities in the area. Everything from water pipes, household’€™s appliances and even steel pipes are stolen by addicts looking for money to buy their next fix.

Currently it isn’€™t illegal to manufacture and sell nyaope because it has not yet been classified as an illegal drug. However, the National Department of Justice and Gauteng MEC of Social Development, Nandi Mayathula Khoza are planning to do it in the near future.

The Soshanguve community believes that a real change can be brought about by the classification of the drug and heavy jail sentences for those who are found in possession of and those selling nyaope.   They also believe that government should commit itself to building more rehabilitation centres and establish support systems in the townships especially where the alcohol and drug usages are high. – OurHealth/Health-e News Service

Tshilidzi Tuwani is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Soshanguve in the Tshwane health district in Gauteng.

About the author

Tshilidzi Tuwani

Tshilidzi Tuwani is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Gauteng's Tshwane Health District.

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