Whoonga addicts cry for help

2017-02-27 09:48
Ten whoonga users turn to police to get clean.

Ten whoonga users turn to police to get clean. (File)

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Ten whoonga addicts have turned to the police for help in their quest to quit the drug in Pietermaritzburg.

“This is not life. My parents did not envision this for me. I’m tired of being a drug slave,” one of the whoonga addicts told The Witness.

The Witness interviewed two of the addicts at Alexandra Road police station. They asked not to be named. Police had kept the rest of the group in a safe place.

The two, apparently going through agonising withdrawal symptoms, kept scratching their bodies throughout the interview and at times were doubled over in agony as they battled stomach cramps brought on by their withdrawal.

A 26-year-old Elandskop man was among the vagrants who were chased away from the Ematsheni taxi rank a few weeks ago. He said he has used whoonga for 10 years.

“It seemed right at the beginning but now it’s hell,” he said.

“It all started with dagga. I wanted to fit in. It was easier in the beginning. However, once you are hooked, there is no turning back.

“I have done criminal activities just to get another fix. Prison quickly became my second home,” he said.

Whoonga is arguably one the most dangerous drugs in South Africa. It is said the drug is made of heroin and rat poison and mixed with dagga. The side-effects of the street drug have resulted in it being called one of the most dangerous.

“It’s very difficult to quit using but we believe we are ready to stop. The problem is at night when you can’t sleep, are vomiting and having unbearable stomach pains.

“The main problem is you can’t stop scratching your body,” said the homeless addict.

He said a man they used to smoke with told them how they can stop using and stay clean.

The addicts, who also sold whoonga, then took a decision to approach the commander of the Pietermaritzburg Flying Squad, Captain Zamo Bhengu, recently. They wanted the police to help them find a rehabilitation facility that can help them get clean.

Another addict said: “I have told my heart that enough is enough. I lost my parents while hooked on whoonga and crime. Now I have nowhere to go and no one to turn to. I was no longer scared; it was time to put my life first and not so-called friends,” said the 25-year-old.

“I have wronged so many people in my life. To all the people I stole from and broke into their homes, please forgive me. I was under the influence of the drug.”

PMB South cluster police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese said: “We want to plead with any organisation or the business sector to come forward and assist the addicts. Any help would be useful, shelter, old clothes and putting them into a rehabilitation centre,” said Ngobese.

Ngobese said the addicts have been assisting them to fight the whoonga problem in and around the city.

The addicts are hopeful that their action might prompt others to come forward and quit the drug.

“We are known as the kings of the whoonga. Perhaps if other addicts see that we are willing to change, they might also join us,” said the vagrant.

Ngobese said uMgungundlovu South cluster police commander Major-General Phumelele Makhoba commended the decision.

“The intention is not to arrest but to assist. We are hopeful that more whoonga addicts will come forward to look for help.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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