Watch the shock moment these nyaope addicts demonstrate a blood swap to get high
Society should pull together to stop the nyaope "bluetooth" trend in its tracks, and not leave this responsibility to the government.
This was the reaction of the national Department of Health yesterday to nyaope users who resort to a much more deadly way of getting the drug into their system in Pretoria's northern townships.
Known in Mabopane and Soshanguve as "bluetooth", this trend entails the transfusion of already drugged blood into another user.
Nyaope users Sowetan spoke to outside the Mabopane train station yesterday said many of their peers were using syringes with blood to drug themselves.
Sharing a nyaope smoke in public with his friend, a nyaope addict said the bluetooth trend started late last year.
He claimed many were found dead usually in the mornings. "I won't use [blood] injections because I smoke nyaope with dagga already. I don't use injections."
The friend jumped into the conversation: "It's people who've not done biology who are injecting themselves. You cannot just inject yourself with someone else's blood. It kills the veins and disturbs your heartbeat."
The pair suggested rehabilitation schemes for nyaope users in their area would help them. "I have a child, but I can't be a good father while I'm using nyaope."
They took Sowetan to an addict they said needed to stop using syringes.
But he denied he was injecting blood from fellow users. "I only hear about this bluetooth thing, but I've not done it.
"How could someone just inject themselves with someone else's blood?"
Joe Maila, the department's spokesman, expressed shock about the trend. "We're extremely worried as the Department of Health because it's not just about addiction with this bluetooth thing.
"The transmission of HIV will also go up as they are sharing blood not knowing what the other person has. However, we think government and the community should intervene by acting together to deal with this matter," said Maila.
Maila said talking out about nyaope was just as critical as the provision of rehabilitation facilities. "Yes, to those who are already addicted the issue of rehabilitation needs to be strengthened."
The South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) in Soshanguve confirmed "bluetooth" was becoming common in the township.
Hendrick Lefoka, a social worker at the Sanca centre, said the practice was becoming a trend.
"It's usually done because others cannot afford the drug. So, it's a cost effective practice for them.
"It's been confirmed by our patients in the clinic. Personally, I have interviewed over 10 people who agreed that they've shared injections. It's a growing trend," Lefoka said.
However, Pretoria police appeared to be out of the loop.
Warrant Officer Matthews Nkoadi, spokesman for police stations in Soshanguve, Mabopane and GaRankuwa, said they were not aware of it. "We're policing the Tshwane north area and are in contact with all neighbouring Tshwane areas. But we haven't heard of such a thing. It's news to us."