What is Nyaope or Whoonga?
Nyaope (also called Whoonga) is one of the cheapest, most widespread and dangerous addictive substances in South Africa. The drug emerged between 2000 and 2006 in the Tshwane townships of Mamelodi, Attridgeville and Soshanguve. It later was found being used and manufactured in Durban in 2010; following that, Nyaope spread like wildfire throughout the provinces of South Africa with one hit costing as little as R20.
The name was coined by drug traffickers but nyaope and whoonga have become the common street slang for the concoctions of substances (like rat poison, household detergents, ammonia, chlorine, ARVs, brown heroin, tik and dagga) used in its manufacture. The new drug names were created to open up new niche markets for familiar drugs that had been in circulation for decades. Later, ARV medications were added to the compound to give it a more distinctive image, but not all whoonga street purchases contain these HIV/AIDS medications.
A Lethal Concoction
The ingredients comprising whoonga vary, some ingredients are a mixturel of anti-retroviral drugs, pool cleaner, milk powder, bicarbonate of soda and milk powder. Typically, whoonga has cannabis as a prominent component, but this is mixed with crystal meth, heroin and other drugs. Street portions contain high volumes of toxic bulk fillers and other cheap powders (for inflating the size of the portion).
ARV (HIV/AIDS) medications are also being added. Some users believe it enhances the drug. This is fueled by ignorance about different, complex ARV formulations. The ARV issue has, however, become a particular problem. These medicines are being stolen from patients and hospitals. They are also sold to drug traffickers by impoverished patients who obtain it through government health programs. This is, in turn hampering the treatment of AIDS.
Due to high addictiveness, the drug leads to further criminality by users who need money to finance their purchases, as well as gang-related “turf wars”.
How is Whoonga Used?
Nyaope is usually consumed by rolling it with tobacco and cannabis into a joint for smoking. In powdery form, it can also be snorted. A more recent development, is the use of a process known as “bluetoothing”. This is achieved by one addict sharing (or selling) their blood to another addict, by means of a minor blood transfusion. A syringe is used for extracting “laden” blood from one user and then injecting it into another user. Nyaope is powerfully addictive; one hit is enough to get hooked.