Have we really reached a point where drug addicts apparently plunder ashes from memorial walls to ‘spice up’ their whoonga?
This has been a rumour following incident of vandalism at the Scottburgh cemetery in KwaZulu-Natal and cemeteries in Johannesburg, yet it carries on unabated.
From trading highs through injecting themselves with a high user’s blood, to now smoking the ashes of cremated people, drug addicts might just have started a new trend. Frighteningly, this is not just the scenario for a horror movie, South Coast Herald reports.
It is now believed and alleged that ashes looted from memorial walls are being used as a mixture to add volume to the street drug whoonga. Nearly two years have passed since the Scottburgh Cemetery Memorial Wall was first vandalised.
At first, suspicions and findings led to the belief that the grounds were being vandalised by people practising the ‘dark arts’. Since then, the cemetery grounds have been left to deteriorate, causing large numbers of people to get frustrated at the lack of proper access control and security at the cemetery.
Countless memorial stones have been broken and ashes looted. One of the walls literally has no more occupied spaces.
Generally, the mixture of the drug whoonga is believed to consists mostly of heroin, morphine and strychnine (rat poison). The rat poison is used as a cutting agent in order to increase the volume, but apparently now it alleged human ashes are now being used to replace the rat poison or simply added to the mixture. Whoonga has also been found to contain trace amounts of antiretroviral drugs – also used as a cutting agent.
The memorial stones at Scottburgh Cemetery have been vandalised almost on a weekly basis.
Last year during the December investigation into the vandalised Wall of Remembrance, a woman insisted, while in talks with Umdoni Head of Community Services, Pooven Pillay, that security measures be implemented to ensure that such incidents never occurred again.
At the time, Mr Pillay was at the cemetery when the woman discovered her mother’s memorial stone had been destroyed.
Talks of cemetery maintenance plans were plentiful in February this year when, during a council meeting, such was suggested. However, the only ‘maintenance’ that has been carried out so far has been the cutting of grass and trimming of bushes.
Shocking as this may seem – unbelievable even – the little old South Coast cemetery is not the only one being allegedly raided.
According to reports published on the Sowetan Live’s website, an employee at a cemetery in Kempton Park, Johannesburg came forward stating that more than 50 memorial stones had been vandalised by alleged nyaope (whoonga) users, who steal the ashes.
Another recent incident took place in Krugersdorp, Johannesburg in which the ashes of a loved one were stolen from a family by alleged nyaope addicts has also come as a shock
On Tuesday, June 6, Eileen du Toit’s mother’s ashes were stolen from the bedroom closet where they had been kept since her mother died about a year and a half ago. The family was left traumatised by this event such that they have decided to sell what Eileen had believed to be her dream home.
“You don’t feel safe anymore, you feel violated. My mother lived with us in this very house, it’s very difficult,” said Eileen.
Even though this form of reckless behaviour is relatively new, various publications such as The Daily Sun and Sowetan have recently reported that boxes containing the ashes of cremated people are being stolen. Cases of this crime have been registered at Mooifontein Cemetery in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, and at Avalon Cemetery in Soweto.
According to The Daily Sun, workers at both cemeteries said that many graves had been vandalised, supposedly by nyaope smokers looking for ashes.
However, Norkem Park Police Station spokesperson Captain Lesibana Molokomme said: “Even though a number of cases of graveyard vandalism have been opened, he could not confirm that the perpetrators are nyaope addicts.”
Police spokespersons in Krugersdorp and Kagiso, including Captain Appel Ernst, spokesperson for the West Rand Cluster, said no crimes of this nature had been reported as yet.
– Caxton News Service