Nyaope is the biggest social issue in communities

Article by: Nkosinathi Arthur Msibi

Street drugs like Nyaope are destroying the future of South African youth and ruining the lives of their parents. When they should be in school, in communities the addicted children are scavenging for money to finance their habits.

Nyaope, a Sotho word meaning "you are going nowhere." It's a crude concoction of low grade heroin cut with anything from rat poison to chlorine, but which the Drugs and trafficking Act defines as the combination of cannabis and heroin. It has been said that they use the powder from inside a smashed plasma TV screen in the mix.

This concoction is then sprinkled onto a dagga joint and smoked. "We do not get hungry after smoking, we just want snacks. It has changed me a lot. Even my own mother was scared of me. She could not stand me," said an ex user. The cheap and highly addictive street drug has taken the communities by storm. Since the drug hit the streets of Ekurhuleni communities, there has been a high rate of crime. Housebreaking has soared, armed robberies are an hourly occurrence. Around many communities in South Africa you can see addicts going too extreme to finance their habit. From sheet metal to electonic cables, water taps, gates, cooper, alumi-num; whatever they can lay their hands on, they steal. These are exchanged for cash in scrap yard. The amount of cash one receives depends on the weight of the goods.

The nyaope addicts share many traits from greying, aged skin, lack of hygiene and their ingenuity when it comes to finding the R30 to R40 they need for a "fix". Nyaope addicts spend hours at the dump sites, painstakingly separating plastic casing from copper cables. They burn cables, revealing the copper inside. A task made easier after the cables have been burnt. Then it's market time.

According to the police statistic show 60% of crimes in South Africa are related to substance abuse and nyacommunities form a significant portion of drug users. The nyaope drug has not been classified as an illegal substance but the Department of Justice is moving to amend the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act to ensure charges be laid for possession and dealing of the nyaope drug. Charges will rely on the dagga and heroin commonly found in nyaope.