A day in the life of a nyaope addict

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

By Gabi Khumalo

Pretoria – It started eight years ago when John Mmokwa was in Grade 12 and trying to fit in with a group of friends, who were smoking cigarettes and dagga. He was soon introduced to something stronger - nyaope.

“They [friends] said let’s try nyaope and see if it will take us to the next level. When I’m high, I see myself owning this planet and I feel like I can do and achieve anything in life,” Mmokwa told SAnews.

He said he used ways and means to get the money to buy the drug, which cost between R25 and R40. Mmokwa said he deceives people by standing next to the traffic lights, pretending to be homeless. He said people would pity him and give him money, which he spends on drugs.

“We wait at the robots carrying boards saying: ‘We are homeless’. When people give us money and ask how we are going to spend it, we tell them we will buy food for our families. Sometimes I feel that maybe that’s the reason we are struggling in life because we scam people,” said the 27-year-old.

“I sometimes steal from my neighbours and friends to get money for my next fix. I steal small things which won’t get me into trouble,” he said.

Mmokwa said its not easy to quit although he would like to stop his addiction.

“I want to quit. I once checked in at a local rehabilitation centre, but I left after three weeks without completing the programme because I couldn’t manage the pain I was feeling. At the centre, they don’t give us any medication to stop the pain. Maybe if there was medication, I would have stayed long,” Mmokwa remembers.

He said if he ever stops using nyaope, he would try to achieve his dream of becoming a radio personality. “I want to be a radio dee-jay or radio broadcaster.”

According to a local anti-narcotics organisation, Thandanani, up to 80% of households in Mamelodi East have a family member hooked on the highly addictive nyaope.   

Community members say the drug is sold to the children and as a result the youth is rendered futureless and uneducated.

Government intervenes

On Tuesday, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini visited Mamelodi East, in a bid to address the high prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse in the area, especially nyaope.

Minister Dlamini explained that prior to her visit, the department had engaged with the affected communities.

“We have a programme in place which will last for a period of six months. It deals with issues of alcohol and substance abuse, especially nyaope.

“We want to ensure that we go out to our communities so that they access our facilities. We want to work with young people since there are high levels of school drop outs, teenage pregnancy and many women headed households.

“We want to work with women, empower them so that they are able to deal with daily challenges,” Minister Dlamini said.

She said the drugs had a negative impact on communities, adding that it results in high levels of theft, school drop outs and unemployment.

However, she said there are centres of rehabilitation and as a department they have strengthened those centres to ensure young people don’t return to drug abuse.

The Minister said the department would further work with the youth on a programme to ensure that they harness their energy into something productive.

She said other departmental programmes and NGOs will also be strengthened in the area. – SAnews.gov.za

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