Whoonga addicts alive and well in CBD

2016-01-12 06:00
The whoonga drug. Photo: supplied

The whoonga drug. Photo: supplied

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THE Pinetown CBD is known for its busy roads and never-ending traffic congestion however, along those roads are whoonga addicts who come from stable families, yet become hardcore criminals because of the deadly drug.
Nomusa Shabalala, a Pinetown street vendor, said the whoonga addicts trouble and interfere with the public and are increasing in numbers.
“These people steal from us. We have to always be alert when we leave our stalls because the moment you turn your back one of them steals your stock. It’s like they watch your every move and are willing to take the risk by stealing even in busy areas.”

She said the vendors are fed up of the whoonga addicts. Some vendors said if they catch one of them stealing their wares they will alert other vendors and “mob justice will be served”. A Pinetown taxi driver, who wished to remain anonymous, said the addicts don’t only steal from the public, they assault people and may even resort to murder.
“They rob people with knives and if you refuse to give them what they want they will stab you to death. This problem is not only experienced in Pinetown, it also happens in other parts of Durban and in townships.
“I read a story where a 19-year-old girl was stabbed in the chest and behind her ear when she was robbed of her cellphone by a whoonga addict. She died on the way to hospital. They are heartless creatures who steal and kill the community. At the rank we are cautious and whenever we hear a cry of help we the first ones to rush to the scene.”

A taxi commuter Nokuthula Ndaba from KwaNyuswa said: “I was visiting a friend in Umlazi and had to take a taxi from one of the Durban CBD ranks. I was sitting in back seat of the taxi and it was hot day so we had our windows open. When the driver stopped at a traffic light, two boys came from the left and the right side of the window and grabbed our bags. We couldn't catch them. We were all shocked at what had happened. They ran so fast and disappeared under the M4 bridge.”

Bongumusa Molefe, founder of Clermont Kwadabeka Youth Against Crime and Drugs (CKYAD) in KwaDabeka Sub-Five area said they help whoonga addicts fight their addiction by getting them off the streets and taking them to rehab.
“We embark on a mission to get whoonga addicts off the streets, send them to rehab and empower them with skills. The organisation was formed during the xenophobic attacks in which most of the attackers where whoonga addicts so the youth of Kwadabeka and Clermont decided to help the addicts who are drowning in whoonga.”

Pinetown SAPS spokesperson Warrant Officer BJ Manqele said: “We are aware of the whoonga addicts in Pinetown and police are doing everything in their power to get them behind bars by making sure that members of the SAPS are patrolling during the day and at night.”

Whoonga is famous for allegedly containing antiretroviral drugs prescribed for HIV, but its exact ingredients are disputed and it has been argued that the claim that the drug contains Aids medication is simply an urban legend.

One version of the claim is that whoonga contains classic psychoactive drugs such as cannabis, methamphetamine or heroin potentiated by interactions with the antiretroviral ritonavir. Another is that the drug contains efavirenz (alone or with the ingredients mentioned above), which supposedly has psychoactive side effects. Aids experts point out that the ingredients of the anti-retroviral drugs are unlikely to cause the whoonga high and users may be fooling themselves in that regard. A laboratory analysis of samples of whoonga failed to detect any anti-retroviral drugs in its makeup, and a medical scientist who has analysed the contents of the drug has concluded that it does not contain Aids anti-retroviral medication.

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