Addiction & Rehabilitation Alcohol & Drugs OurHealth

Duduza family battles nyaope addiction

Written by Thabo Molelekwa

Sheila Gumbi watched her son change before her eyes as her once sweet baby boy became increasingly aggressive. She now knows why but being able to name her son’s addiction has not given her the power to stop it.

Sheila Gumbi became so afraid of her son after he got hooked on nyaope that she sought a protection order against him. Now, Thulani is hoping to get clean.

Sheila Gumbi became so afraid of her son after he got hooked on nyaope that she sought a protection order against him. Now, Thulani is hoping to get clean.

Sheila began noticing a change in her son Thulani towards the end of 2014.

Thulani’s older brother Nkululeko also noticed the change and the way Thulani increasingly barked orders at family members and even became violent.

“His behaviour made me suspicious,” Sheila said. “He confessed to me that he was using nyaope.”

“I knew he was smoking cigarettes, but never thought he would smoke nyaope,” added Shelia, who became so fearful of Thulani that she got a police protection order against him.

Thulani said that although he wants to quit, he is struggling to stop using the drug, which is a mixture of low-grade heroin often cut with ingredients like detergents and even rat poison.

“My problem is that I don’t know how I can stop,” Thulani said. “All the friends I have now smoke nyaope, and whenever we are together we smoke.”

In the meantime, the family is desperate to get the “old” Thulani back.

“All we need as a family is a rehab for my younger brother,” Nkululeko added.

OurHealth approached the Tsakane Youth Development Programme, which works with young people who use drugs. Programme chairperson Pule Moloi said the organisation would do what it could to support and motivate Thulani to get better.

“If the boy really wants help, he can come to our offices we will take it from there,” Moloi told OurHealth.

About the author

Thabo Molelekwa

Thabo Molelekwa joined OurHealth citizen journalists project in 2013 and went on to become an intern reporter in 2015. Before joining Health-e News, Thabo was a member of the Treatment Action Campaign’s Vosloorus branch. He graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology with a diploma in Computer Systems and started his career at Discovery Health as a claims assessor. In 2016 he was named an International HIV Prevention Reporting Fellow with the International Centre for Journalists and was a finalist in the Discovery Health Journalism Awards competition in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Thabo also completed a feature writing course at the University of Cape Town in 2016. In 2017 he became a News reporter , he is currently managing the Citizen Journalism programme.You can follow him on @molelekwa98