Thursday, May 29, 2008

Glue Addiction in South Africa

More stories about South African inhalant abuse have been finding their way into the media, with the latest one being in iol.co.za, an online news source for South Africa.

The author paints a vivid picture of a child with an addiction to glue, and a few coins are "all it costs to buy a bottle of viscous orange glue from an "auntie" who makes her living peddling deformity and death as though she were a legitimate businesswoman."

There are also quotes from children who use glue as an escape:

"My mother threw me away when I was a baby. I was found by social welfare, but there was no one who loved me. They put me with a foster mother, but she only took children for the grant. I ran to the streets when I was nine years old.

The glue helps me when I am feeling sad that my mother did not want her own child. When I have some money I go to the aunties with the glue. They buy big drums and then put it in the bottles. They come on the taxis with the glue. The police do not worry because you can buy glue if you like. It is not against the law." - Siphiso, 15.


In South Africa, glue is the most abused inhalant, with three main varieties:
"Neoprene, SS Neoprene and an unnamed, dark orange glue that is the most toxic. All three have a high level of a neurotoxic chemical called toluene. When inhaled, usually from a small glass bottle, often concealed in an empty milk or cold drink carton, the fumes are highly addictive, and the effects nearly instantaneous."

There are no regulations on the sale or abuse of glue. Joseph Nandwa, a Undungu field officer, says that "anyone who sells an inhalant to a minor, knowing that it will be abused, is subject to three years in prison. But there has not been a single recorded arrest."

One particularly sad section reads as follows:

"David followed the routine practised by thousands of homeless children in Nairobi each day. He took out a handkerchief, dipped it into a tin of paint thinner, put it to his nose and inhaled deeply.

Asked what he was doing, David replied: "Dinner". David was sniffing paint-thinner to suppress his hunger and ward off the cold."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a small note: Nairobi is in Kenya. Butane from cigarette lighters is also very popular with South African street children as a means to curb hunger pains.