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An innovative five-minute drug testing kit has been introduced in schools in an effort to stem the growing tide of substance abuse by pupils.
Leon Klugman of Focus Products, the company that distributes the test kits, says: "We brought in the test kits as a crime-fighting tool and the schools got interested and started using it."
The kit, Drugsmart Cup, is used in random drug testing in schools. A Drugsmart Cup kit that tests for five of the most common drugs used by schoolchildren costs R70.
It is designed to test for dagga, cocaine, opium, methamphetamines or tik and amphetamines. A standard kit used by the Tshwane metro police and some big businesses is designed to test for 10 different drugs and costs R90.
A Drugsmart Cup test kit comes sealed and during a test a police officer hands over the package to the pupil to open it.
"This ensures that pupils do not later claim that they were framed," Klugman says.
After opening the seal, the pupils are required to provide 30ml of their urine which goes into the cup. The cup has a gauge that measures the urine's temperature.
"Body temperature is 32degrees Celsius and if the urine's temperature does not measure up to that level, we are able to determine whether the pupil has put apple juice or some other liquid in the cup," Klugman says.
When the urine sample is taken, the cup is signed by the pupil, a teacher and the police officer conducting the test. They then wait for five minutes for the test results.
"The pupil has the right to refuse to sign but that raises suspicions. After testing positive for drugs, some pupils claim that they have taken flu medicine. If the pupil has taken flu medication as directed by a doctor, they will not test positive. But if they have taken huge gulps of it, then they will test positive," says Klugman.
The only medicine that will register positive on the kit is paracetacod (a remedy that contains caffeine).
The codeine in the paracetacod is converted into morphine by the body and it tests positive for opium. The only downside to the kit is that it cannot be used as evidence in court. Courts only use blood samples as evidence.