Despite various videos which have gone viral on social media about people displaying uncontrollable behaviour due to the “zombie drug” called flakka, police say the narcotic has not hit Cape Town yet.
Tertuis Cronje, director of the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA), said that the drug is far worse than tik.
He describes flakka as a synthetic type of cathinone, which is a powerful stimulant drug found in the plant khat.
The drug, he said, appears as a greyish rough salt which has a more coarse texture than methamphetamine, commonly known as tik.
The drug can be vapourised and inhaled or snorted but is mainly injected.
“The side effects of this drug include agitation, and, in higher doses, impaired and incoherent speech, uncontrollable body movements, mood changes, unpredictable behaviour and paranoia,” said Mr Cronje.
He said the drug offers a brief high lasting for a few minutes only, followed by an extreme low.
“Users will experience a loss of energy, no drive or motivation, exhaustion and often feel depressed,” said Mr Cronje.
Manenberg police spokesperson, Captain Ian Bennett, said the station had received no reports about the drug being used by Capetonians.
He said despite videos being circulated on social media, there has been no solid evidence to show that the cause of the person’s behaviour was “flakka”.
Manenberg Safety Forum chairperson, Roegchanda Pascoe, said the forum has also had no reports of the drug being used in communities.
Ms Pascoe, however, said the age of children becoming substance abusers has become younger.
“We will be doing investigations and will be speaking to police about this.
“There are rumours that it (flakka) is being sold as sweets over the counter and we will engage with shopkeepers in the area,” she said.
Asked if the Western Cape Health Department has put any measures into place to prepare hospital staff for the side effects of the drug as it is said to make one extremely aggressive, should the drug hit Cape Town, spokesperson Monique Johnstone said: “The department has not received any reports from our facilities regarding the flakka drug.
“Patients with a drug-induced psychosis are usually assessed in the trauma unit of a facility by the medical professional for any physical illness and sedated if necessary, and would be certified to the psychiatric admission ward for a 72-hour observation if the patient is a danger to either themselves or another person.”
Mr Cronje said the top three reasons people use drugs are the curiosity to experiment, especially youth who are bored and unsupervised, substance abusers who want to try something new, and peer pressure, especially in cases where a child has low self-esteem, comes from a poor family, is exposed to violence and has no positive role models.