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Crime rate in South Africa is rising on a fast rocket. So also, the drug market is not in any way slowing down. Alcohol and other popular substances like marijuana, remain widely popular, however a new entrant which is making it big is Nyaope.

Substance abuse in South Africa has taken a turn for the worse in recent times. The country with a population of about 54 million people has 1 in every 15 of its population with substance problem. The result of the use of drugs in South Africa is that its usage of drug is twice the norm in the world.

According to studies, majority of those engage in Substance Abuse in South Africa began before the teen ages. While there are different reasons pushed forward for the early usage of drugs, peer pressure is at the center.

Drug usage and abuse has a massive and crystal link with delinquency. The problem however has been that it cannot be established if delinquency drives drug abuse or drug abuse drives delinquency.


Also known as whoonga, woonga, or wunga, nyaope is a popular street drug in South Africa. While the drug has been around in the country for some time, it came into full prominence in 2010.

Described as a “cruelest high” by Aljazeera in 2010, Nyaope began from the suburbs of Durban, before feasting on other parts of the country. It is still more popular in Durban and Guateng.

The dangerous drug is able to spread really fast as a result of the fact that it can give quick “high”. Although the “highness” that the drug can give is cheap in the monetary sense, the long term effect is not in any way cheap. South Africa’s Federation for Mental Health noted that there is a very high rate of non recovery associated with the drug.

Claimed to be one of the worst drugs in South Africa,  whoonga is said to be popular among the jobless and very poor. This is because they cannot afford to buy the more expensive marijuana and other drugs.

The use of this drug has as well spread to include children. Most recently it was discovered that school children and dealers wrap the substance in biscuit, chips, and other packages.

Nyope Ingredients

What makes many people skeptical about woonga, is its make. This as well is why it is highly dangerous. The drug is a concoction of various harmful substances such as:

  • Antiretroviral drugs: It is claimed that this drug is the most popular of all the ingredients for Nyope. As alleged, dealers in the drugs either get these antiretroviral drugs that are meant to be distributed free to HIV patients through buying them through dubious means or robbing HIV patients. The use of antiretroviral drugs have however been contested.
  • Marijuana: Marijuana is another very popular ingredient for Nyaope drugs. Others are
  • Heroin
  • Rat Poison
  •  Detergent powder

Whoonga: Signs and Effects

The mixture of this drug is what actually makes it worst among other drugs in South Africa. The drug is dangerous, easy to get addicted and very hard to recover from its addiction.  Signs of usage and addiction include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Being secretive and suspicious
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Developing low appetite for food
  • Sudden weight change
  • Change in color of eyes
  • Becoming smelly
  • Deteriorating physical condition
  • Impaired conditions or tremors and slurred speech.

Although different other drugs can cause most of these, in South Africa the likelihood that Nyaope is causing all these is higher.

The effects of the whoonga which is one of the worst drugs in South Africa can be multidimensional. Some of its effects are:

  • Higher chances to commit crime
  • It opens one up to contacting dangerous diseases like HIV and AIDS, when it leads to promiscuity.
  • Misplacement of priorities
  • Body pain and mind alteration
  • Mental Illness
  • Death

Some reported incidences caused by Nyaope include one of a young lady who abandoned her children and home for the drug. Another case was that of two addicts who stabbed each other for R2, leading to the death of one. There has also been reports in Tshwane where smokers of the drug damaged headstones and ornaments in the Mabopane cemetery.

Because of the disturbing effects of this substance abuse in South Africa, various individuals and groups are seriously advocating for ways its spread can be checked. More so, some correctional facilities in the country are devoting much time towards solving the menace.

Other drugs in South Africa which can easily be bought include dagga and khat.

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