Zim police bust teens heading to 'mother' of all drug-fueled parties
Bulawayo police have arrested teenagers in possession of sex-enhancing drugs, condoms and alcohol on their way to a party in Zimbabwe's second-largest city.
The infamous drug and alcohol-fueled gigs - popularly known as Vuzu parties, a name borrowed from a lifestyle television channel with the same name found on the DStv bouquet - are giving police sleepless nights.
This past weekend was meant to be the "mother" of all Vuzu parties, since it was the last weekend before the reopening of schools. However, police already had information and they mounted roadblocks around the city.
The operation netted at least 121 youths - with an average age of 16 - on Saturday and Sunday.
"We impounded a kombi that was carrying 25 youths to a party on Saturday. The vehicle was loaded with dagga, sex-enhancing drugs and condoms," Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said.
Most of those arrested were taken in for "criminal nuisance and public drinking" offences.
"Some of these kids were making disruptive noise in the city, uttering obscene words and drinking alcohol in public," Ncube said.
On Monday, all those arrested remained in police custody as law enforcement agents tried to establish their real names, with parents as well as guardians coming forward with identity particulars. Depending on their ages, the police said, the youths would appear in court.
"They are in safe police custody waiting to be taken to court. We have asked their parents and guardians to bring their birth certificates for those under age as we want to avoid being given false names. They will be charged with public nuisance and public drinking," Ncube said.
But the Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network (ZCLDN) believes arresting the youths would only make them more stubborn.
"Arresting these youths will also toughen them to engage in criminal activities and this will affect their futures. We, therefore, urge the police to investigate the source of these drugs and arrest the suppliers who are benefiting from the selling of these illicit drugs while the health and lives of the youths and other people who use drugs are at risk," the organisation said.
Earlier this year, the Catholic Church and the ministry of health launched an anti-alcohol and drug campaign, targeting communities in which unemployed young people resort to drinking and using narcotics to alleviate the stress of not having work.
Zimbabwe's deputy director of mental health services, Dr Chido Rwafa, said drug abuse was one of the three prevalent diagnoses in mental health ailments they come across.