My vreugdes en frustrasies


Reblogged: Drug addiction – “We’re dead people walking”

Whoonga Park

I cried unashamedly when I read this article. There are so many people of all ages and from all walks of life who are living through the hell of addiction, but the young ones who should be living carefree lifes and planning their futures, their stories break my heart. Siqalo and Khuzwayo, I hope you get “clean” and you get to go home, because that is where you belong. I hope that your loved ones can once again experience the joy of holding you. There is nothing worse than watching your child or sibling slowly commiting suicide right in front of your eyes- because that is what addicts do, they kill themselves little by little.

Article reblogged from the website

Living in the hell of Whoonga Park

Murder, rape, crime, homelessness, abuse by police … daily life for whoonga users

By Nomfundo Xolo

6 February 2018

Photo of a woman holding a beaded South African flag
Nobuhle Khuzwayo doing bead work during life skills training at the Denis Hurley Centre. Photo: Nomfundo Xolo

“Siqalo used to be the most promising child in our house … the last born. He got the best of everything. We took him to better schools than we did his younger sister and brother. He did well for the better half of high school.Then he met up with the wrong friends, and never even got to matric,” Fanele Ngcobo tells GroundUp about his son.

Siqalo is 22. He has been a whoonga user since 2015. By 10am, he has already smoked his second fix. Without the drug he struggles to function. Withdrawal effects – which people refer to as “arosta” – include stomach cramps, vomiting, and extreme anxiety.

Whoonga is a mixture of marijuana and heroin and rumoured to contain anti-retrovirals, detergents and even rat poison. Active addiction has spread in KwaZulu-Natal townships such as KwaMashu and iNanda. Hundreds of people now live in Durban’s ‘Whoonga Park’,

Siqalo was a keen soccer player, says his mother, Sizakele. Now his worn, black soccer shoes peek out from under the bed in his old room at home in iNanda, Durban.

“He always went for practice with his friends at the local playground. But after a while, soccer wasn’t the only thing he and his friends were playing with; he was also experimenting with dangerous drugs,” she says.

Siqalo lives in so-called Whoonga Park, under a bridge next to the Berea railway lines in Durban. The park has become a den for whoonga users. They have bright beach umbrellas to protect them from the heat and black plastic bags for shelter. The activities under the bridge are in plain view. People trade and smoke. In the afternoons and at night, many take to the city streets to hustle for food and the money they need to buy their fix.

“There are no beds here. Even if you can get a blanket or sheet to sleep in, it doesn’t last a week. The police will burn it,” says Siqalo. “So it’s easier just to use cardboard and plastic as it is easy to find in the streets. Although I miss home, I cannot go back home like this. I need to be clean. My family doesn’t trust me around the house and for good reason because I’ve stolen their money and appliances too many times. I tried to be clean when they first fetched me, but arosta is too painful – nobody can understand. But I still want to go home.”

Cooked meals, showers and clean clothes

Nobuhle Khuzwayo from eMpangeni, KwaZulu-Natal, is one of those trying to get off whoonga. She attends the iSiphephelo Centre housed at the Denis Hurley Centre in Durban, where she gets cooked meals and clean clothes three times a week. For a few hours she is free of whoonga.

Co-founder of the centre Sihle Ndima says it is a place of safety for young girls and women living on the streets of Durban. It offers meals, counselling, clean clothes and showers.

“Many of them return back to the streets soon after classes, and the work we do seems like failure, because in the end they go back to using whoonga,” says Ndima. “We work with a rehabilitation centre in Newlands East, Durban, and they offer free help.”

Khuzwayo, who is 30, came to Durban seeking a job in 2014, but after numerous failed attempts, she was left homeless and desperate.

“The shoe factory I was working for closed down after a month. Thereafter it was difficult to get employment. I had been staying at the Dalton hostel with some friends, who later introduced me to smoking. They would tell me it was marijuana, but after becoming a frequent smoker … I would get headaches, pains and stomach cramps when I hadn’t smoked. I just could not cope without it. When I confronted them, they told me it was in fact whoonga. I was already deeply hooked,” says Khuzwayo.

She could no longer live at the hostel. She moved to Whoonga Park. To get money she would have to resort to sex work, crime or selling cigarettes. She found a boyfriend who sold cigarettes at taxi ranks to help get them food and the R30 a day they needed to buy whoonga.

“To survive on the streets, I got myself a boyfriend because you can’t survive a day alone under the bridge as a woman. There are men known as amaBhariya, who claim to own the spots in Whoonga Park. They do not smoke or deal the drug; they do not speak local languages or even English. They are ruthless. They rape and kill women under the bridge and make sure the park functions the way it does. They wear blue workmen’s clothes and hats and use the underground drains to move around. So if you don’t have a man to protect you, they will always take advantage of you,” says Khuzwayo.

Merchants outside the park sell whoonga for R30. “They are usually in the streets or in nearby flats but not many sell whoonga under the bridge,” she says.

Hundreds now live in Whoonga Park beside the railway lines in Berea, Durban. Photo: Nomfundo Xolo

Khuzwayo has now moved to a local shelter, paying R20 a night. Her closest friend had TB and when she died it was a turning point.

“I am tired of this life. I am determined to change. I don’t want to die a senseless death without dignity,” she says.

She is now a part-time cleaner at iSiphephelo. After attending all counselling and life skills classes she will qualify for rehab. “After rehab, I am going to go back home and stay with my sister in eMpangeni. You cannot stay away from whoonga in the city,” says Khuzwayo.

Siqalo and Khuzwayo say whoonga users are known as amaPhara. “Because we look like zombies. We’re dead people walking. We sleep standing. We stab you for your phone and sell it for a fix. Plastic and rubble is our shelter, faeces and rubbish are everywhere, and we run from police who destroy our things and chase us away every week. But we always come back. We can’t survive anywhere else,” says Siqalo.

Khuzwayo says she has seen people high on whoonga killed by trains.

“You can’t save them, because it’s like the railway shocks you, and you’re unable to move … seeing the train come at you but unable to run. I’ve seen some getting crushed in half and some losing their limbs. Even a security guard, who was chasing us one time, got stuck and the train crushed his foot.”

“One way or the other, you’re lucky to survive under the bridge.”

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  1. Sjoe, dit breek mens se hart. My pa was vir ‘n paar jaar op allerhande dwelms en moes afgaan omdat hy dit nie meer kon bekostig nie. Hy was vir twee jaar op straat en het nou weer werk gekry en is ook amper twee jaar skoon.

  2. My hart breek vir hierdie mense. Ek kom agter ek draai deesdae my kop net weg, want ek kan nie die dooie kyk in die oë vergeet nie. Hier naby ons by die damwal is daar net so ñ probleem. Vir my voel hierdie na ñ reuse ding in ons land, Hester. ñ Probleem wat groter is as enige iets anders in ons gemeenskappe.

  3. Absoluut skokkend!

    • Comment by post author


      Dit is! Dis nie net die misbruik nie, maar al die ander dinge wat daarmee saamgaan en dan is daar altyd die skarminkels wat voordeel trek uit die situasie. Hierdie stuk het my laat dink aan ‘n horror movie, maar vir baie mense is dit die werklikheid.

  4. Hartseer en tragies. Die handelaars moet eintlik die doodstraf kry want hulle gebruik dit nie self nie. Hul vernietig lewens met hul hebsug na rykdom.

    • Comment by post author


      Jong, ek glo ook ‘n saak het twee kante. Natuurlik doen die handelaars verkeerd, maar die gebruikers dra ook skuld – hulle moes in die eerste plak nie begin het om die dwelms te gebruik nie – waar daar nie ‘n aanvraag is nie, sal daar ook nie ‘n handelaar wees nie.

      • Ja en nee. Toe ek in bib gewerk het het ek gesien hoe werk die verspreiders. mens kry nog die tussenganger ook wat ekstra geld vra om af te lewer ook. Dis meestal jong kinders wat vroeg al gevang word. dit begin maar met uitdaging van maats om te kyk hoe skelm jy kan rook. Dan natuurlik is die ouerhuise waar dit vryelik gekry word.

  5. Wat ‘n bittere verlies aan die lewe.

  6. My eksskoonseun is van sy tienerjare verslaaf aan dwelms. Vele kere rehab toe, maar gaan altyd maar weer terug na daardie lewe. Dit is absoluut hartseer om so ‘n talentvolle man so te sien sukkel om op sy voete te kom.

    • Comment by post author


      Ek het jou gaan red uit my spamboks. Jip, dis ‘n tragedie. Die probleem is dat die verslawing altyd lewend bly en dis ‘n voortdurende geveg daarteen vir die res van jou lewe. Ek dink op die ou einde scramble dit die brein.

    • Comment by post author


      Kameel, Una sê jy soek hulp met jou comments wat verdwyn. Doen die volgende: volg hierdie skakel, scroll af tot by die opskrif “Please tell us more” en kies die opsie “I think Akismet is catching my comments by mistake”. Net daaronder is ‘n vorm wat ingevul moet word. Voltooi net die volgende vvelde – die eerste een (CAPTCHA som), your name, your e-mail, your site adres – URL en in die message block, los net die boodskap “My comments disappear or end up in spamboxes”. Submit. Hulle maak gewoonlik reg binne 24 uur.

  7. Praat gou hier met jou oor die storie. Ek het al so gelag vir die klomp…. kan mense se karakters sien… en dit amuseer my geweldig. Ek het vir Toorts gevra om die een kommentaar vir my op te sit. In ons verdere whatsapp gesels sê ek vir haar “sê vir Hester…. oor die eiland” bedoelende dat ek vir jou gesê het ek is frustreerd ens. Daar gaan plaas sy so wraggies dit as ‘n kommentaar van my af. Toe ek dit lees en jou vraag waar het jy die draad verloor…het ek so gelag. Dis absoluut my sin vir humor alles wat nou afspeel.

  8. Hier is ek weer met my gesnoerde mond. Wil jy nie asb vir Woestynkind en Sonell vra om my uit hulle spambokse te haal nie. My geduld word nou behoorlik getoets met hierdie kommentare wat verdwyn. Dankie 😊

    • Comment by post author


      Kameel, sorry, ek was die hele dag by St Augustine’s hospitaal vir toetse en ek mag nie my selfoon daar gebruik nie. So pas by die huis gekom. Ek sal nou gou vir hulle gaan vra.

      • Ek het later onthou jy is hospitaal toe en toe vir Una gevra. Dankie Hester. Hoe het dinge daar by hospitaal gegaan?

        • Comment by post author


          Baie goed dankie Kameel, die kardioloog dink hy kan my binne drie maande of so kan “speen” van die meeste pille wat ek nou drink en dan sal ek nie meer regtig sy dienste benodig nie! My toetse kom elke jaar beter uit en my hart klop nou soos hy moet. Dit sal ‘n groot verligting wees om ontslae te wees van al die mediese getorring aan my.

        • Bly om te hoor!!! Neem aan jou hart se ritme was ook uit… plus seker nog ander goed ook as jy van al die pille praat. Jy stap so lekker vêr,,, aangeneem jy is perdfris.

        • Comment by post author


          Ek het afgetree en Suidkus toe getrek om gesondheidsredes en dis die beste besluit wat ek ooit gemaak het. Die dokter sê vandag vir my ek het fisies baie sterker geword en al wat hy voorskryf is dat ek op die Suidkus bly en my lewe geniet.

    • Comment by post author


      Ok, ek het hulle laat weet. As hierdie probleem teen môre nie uitsorteer is nie, gaan na hierdie skakel toe en rapporteer dit aan WordPress. Sê vir hulle jy het dit reeds aan Akismet rapporteer. Ek dink nie die fout lê by die blog nie, want Toortsie kan dan comment. Noem vir WordPress dat jy een van drie authors op dieselfde blog is ( Ek sien ook dat jou Gravatar (die adres waarmee jy kommentaar lewer, lei terug na – ek weet nie of dit deel van die probleem kan wees nie, maar noem dit vir hulle.

      • Dankie Hester… Akismet sê hulle siens geen probleem nie. Ek sal more jou raad volg… liewe ek is al so moedeloos gesukkel… het al oorweeg om skoonseun te vra…. hy is ‘n programeerder… maar ek dink nie hulle sal beindruk wees met my skrywe nie. Uiteindelik glimlag ek vir myself.

        • Comment by post author


          Ek hoop jy kom reg. Net WordPress se Happiness Engineers kan in jou blog se data inloer om te sien of daar iets fout is – niemand anders het toegang nie. Ek gee maar net raad uit my eie ondervinding. Gelukkig host ek my eie blog en kan in sy brein rondkrap soos wat ek wil.

        • Al het ek my eie blog gehost sal ek met my rondkrappery definitief meer skade aangerig het. My skoonseun het al my computer gesluit sodat ek niks kan laai voordat hy dit nie goedkeur nie… so het ek al my laptop opgevoeter.

        • Comment by post author


          Whaha. O nee, waaroor lag ek – dis tragies. Ek en my dogter doen web designing, development en hosting vir kliënte, so ons gesamentlike kennis is darem gewoonlik genoeg om ons computers en servers aan die gang te hou. Eintlik werk ons in Drupal en WordPress het ons so mettertyd bygeleer.