The Sunday News
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday News Reporter
A 21-year old man from Tshabalala in Bulawayo died after a suspected overdose of crystal meth, one of the drugs that have wreaked havoc among youths, bringing to fore how the drug menace has continued to destroy communities in the country.
The death of Themba Mwanza at Mpilo Central Hospital last Saturday has now stoked tensions in the suburb with some residents baying for the blood of suspected drug dealers, as more young people in the area are getting hooked on the highly addictive and the potentially deadly drug.
Mwanza died after he complained of stomach pains a day after he took the drugs.
According to post-mortem results, Mwanza died as a result of a drug overdose. His death has inflamed tensions in a community where there is a belief that drug dealers are peddling crystal meth to the young and vulnerable.
When Sunday News visited Tshabalala last week, members of Mwanza’s family, together with some community members, were preparing themselves for a raid on one of the drug dens where Mwanza is said to have bought the deadly concoction of intoxicants that eventually claimed his life.
A community meeting, on how to tackle the drug scourge, was scheduled for yesterday.
Known scientifically as methamphetamine, crystal meth is a highly addictive stimulant used for its powerful euphoric effects.
The rock-like substance is usually decrystallised into a brown smoking smear, which is smoked using curved pipe made from fluorescent tubes from disused energy-saver light bulbs that are cleaned and sold to drug users.
Speaking to Sunday News, Mwanza’s uncle, Mr Godknows Ndlovu, said his nephew started complaining of stomach pains on Saturday afternoon.
“He was drinking (alcohol) normally on Saturday during the day but towards the evening he started complaining of stomach pains. During that time, I noticed that his stomach was rock hard, as if there was something that had tied it in knots.
Throughout the night he was complaining about his stomach and in the morning, it was getting worse and that’s when we decided to take him to Mpilo,” he said.
At Mpilo, Mr Ndlovu said, health practitioners immediately told them that he was likely the victim of a drug overdose, as they had seen many young people exhibiting similar symptoms recently.
“They told us that he had probably overdosed on drugs because they had been taking in a lot of patients of a similar age who had overdosed. They also said the victims usually didn’t survive for long,” he said.
Mwanza passed away on Saturday afternoon, a few hours after being admitted. According to Mr Ndlovu, his friends later on revealed that they had taken crystal meth bought from a dealer in Sizinda.
“Initially we thought it was the alcohol that he had been drinking but as we spoke to his friends, they revealed that they had gone to Sizinda to buy the drugs in-between the drinking,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu, who described his nephew as a mild-mannered young man who did not like to pick fights with anyone, said they had repeatedly warned him and others against consuming some of the drugs now being peddled on the streets of Tshabalala.
According to other community members who spoke to Sunday News, users of the drug had a tendency to become overly aggressive and seemed to have boundless energy after a “hit”.
“We knew they were taking these drugs and we kept on warning them. This is now a problem that is widespread within the community and we want to raise alarm against its devastating effects. My nephew died in a painful way and I want his story to be heard,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Ward 21 Councillor Tinevimbo Maposa, bemoaned the widespread drug use in the community, while calling on law enforcement officers to act to nip the problem in the bud.
“It’s sad that we had such a development, losing lives due to drugs. We have a duty as parents, as communities as leaders in all spheres to do something about drug abuse before we lose a generation. Law enforcement agencies must also deal with those who sell or manufacture such drugs,” he said.
Mwanza was buried on Friday at Umvutsha Park Cemetery. Police could not immediately comment on the issue.