For Steve Sithole and Vusimuzi Kabini, addiction started innocently enough after the two men, then 17 years old, found a packet of nyaope lying in a neighbour’s yard.
“I picked it up and we decided to smoke it (in) the bush after we mixed it with dagga that we bought,” said Kabini, who added that although he recognised the substance in the little plastic bag, neither he nor Sithole had every tried it despite their curiosity.
Sithole said curses that day three years ago even now.
“The stuff is very addictive,” he said. “If I don’t smoke, my nose feels cold and my body becomes very heavy.”
Nyaope, also known as “whoonga,” is heroin-based but can contain other substances including crystal meth, medicine – and even rat poison. Nyaope users in the Hammanskraal area have told OurHealth that a small packed of the drug can cost as much as R35.
Both Sithole and Kabini refused to tell Health-e News where they get their drugs due to their fears that drug dealers would retaliate against them. However, the pair said dealers rarely used the drugs they peddled themselves.
Both men said are looking to kick the nyaope habit. OurHealth was able to connect Sithole and Kabini to the local non-proft Refentse Drop-in Centre, where staff promised to connect the men to a social worker to arrange rehabilitation services.
An edited version of this story was also published in the Hammanskraal News