Whoonga (sometimes spelt “wunga’), also known as nyaope or BoMkon, comes in a little straw that contains a small amount of heroin and bulked up with dagga, rat poison and cleaning detergents, Zululand Observer reported.
According to the Richards Bay police and the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca), whoonga addiction is quickly spreading, inflaming serious criminal activities in the region.
“It is so cheap that it is used by dealers to lure youngsters who quickly get addicted and have little option other than becoming ‘runners’ for the dealers at schools and in their neighbourhoods to feed their addiction,” said Sanca Zululand director Shireen Sahabev.
“Many girls become prostitutes and some get trafficked to foreign countries where they are held hostage and kept as sex slaves. Whoonga is rabid in Zululand, and it is scary.”
With only a tiny dose of heroin in the mix, Sahabev said the euphoric effect of the drug quickly wears off, leaving the poison and detergents to take effect.
“When the chemicals kick in, users suffer excruciating stomach cramps, nausea, uncontrollable convulsions, paranoia and mood swings. To end the pain, users run back for more whoonga,” said Sahabev.
Richards Bay police spokesperson Debbie Ferreira said despite the police’s efforts to clamp down on the issue, drug cases have significantly grown in the past year.
“We will continue raid operations to bring down drug dealers in this area, as well as having awareness campaigns. But it is also important that parents have strict talks with their children and speak up if they have already fallen prey to the drug,” said Ferreira.
“Do not keep quiet if your child has a problem – there are organisations and rehabilitation centres to assist them in recovering.”
According to the SA Police Service, up to 60% of crimes are directly related to substance abuse.
The Central Drug Authority’s figures suggest teenagers who use alcohol or drugs are three times more likely to be involved in a violent crime. There are no statistics available on nyaope, but the department of social development said in its annual report the drug continued to grow in popularity in Tshwane.
– Caxton News Service