‘This pain is worse than hunger’

CityPress - - News - LEON SADIKI leon.sadiki@city­press.co.za

Jody Se­hu­rut­she (23) spends R200 on nyaope ev­ery day and only R10 on food. Eat­ing is not his pri­or­ity.

Get­ting his daily fix is what drives him to get up ev­ery morn­ing to hus­tle on the tough, un­for­giv­ing streets of Jo­han­nes­burg.

He ex­ists in the midst of un­re­quested window wash­ers, street ven­dors and the likes of “Noma yini, boss”, a well-known phrase used by nyaope smok­ers when ask­ing for money on the cor­ner of Em­pire and Yale roads.

Se­hu­rut­she once dreamt of be­ing an en­gi­neer. Now he is one of the 3 mil­lion home­less peo­ple be­tween the ages of 18 and 35 on the streets of South Africa.

On a cold win­ter morn­ing, he wakes up un­der a bridge in Park­town, a place he calls home. He has to make sure he’s out on the streets early to se­cure a good spot to catch mo­torists in morn­ing traf­fic.

Se­hu­rut­she has spent the past seven years beg­ging on the streets of Jo­han­nes­burg. Af­ter drop­ping out of school due to peer pres­sure, he says, he was led down the path to nyaope.

The drug, a con­coc­tion of dif­fer­ent agents, of­ten heroin mixed with rat poi­son and clean­ing de­ter­gents, is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able at R25 a pack.

Mbangwa Xaba, the spokesper­son for the Gaut­eng depart­ment of so­cial de­vel­op­ment, said 22 886 young peo­ple were moved off the streets to re­hab fa­cil­i­ties by the depart­ment in the past fi­nan­cial year, but only 6 000 fin­ished the full pro­gramme. Many went back to the streets.

“The pain of not get­ting my daily fix is more painful than a com­pletely empty stom­ach,” says Se­hu­rut­she.

Like many ad­dicts, he has con­vinced him­self that only re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion can get him out of ad­dic­tion, a lux­ury he thinks he can­not af­ford.

He is ter­ri­fied to go back home to Soweto due to the back­lash that peo­ple who smoke the drug get. Many are blamed for petty crimes in the area – even if they didn’t do it.

In the mean­time, Se­hu­rut­she will have to con­tinue to beg on the streets to stay alive.

TALK TO US What can be done to elim­i­nate the scourge of nyaope in our com­mu­ni­ties?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word DRUGS and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

PHOTO: LEON SADIKI

VI­CIOUS CY­CLE Jody Se­hu­rut­she spends al­most all the money he gets from beg­ging on feed­ing his nyaope ad­dic­tion

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