Drug abuse: “Mutoriro” cases flood the courts
Daniel Nemukuyu Survey editor
Abuse of the dangerous drug called crystalline methamphetamine, commonly known as’ mutoriro ‘,’ dombo ‘or’ guka ‘, by young people has reached alarming levels with at least 100 young men and women appearing in Harare Magistrates’ Court in the past three months.
The flood of cases of sale or possession closely mirrors the flood of drug-induced mental illnesses that threaten to overwhelm the two psychiatric units at Parirenyatwa and Sally Mugabe central hospitals in Harare.
Most of those who develop mental illness from drugs are not hospitalized or treated on an outpatient basis, the majority of mental patients are and can be seen roaming the streets with others behaving abnormally in shopping malls. .
In most communities, young boys and girls who abuse dangerous drugs have changed their behavior, but they remain members of the community until the disease worsens.
They are only taken to psychiatric units when they become violent, show suicidal tendencies, or cause problems for others.
In Harare Magistrates’ Court, cases now arrive on a daily basis, a development that has prompted authorities to assign cases to the Special Anti-Corruption Court, which has, since July this year, dealt with at least 100 cases of methamphetamine possession. or methamphetamine abuse this.
While addicts can abuse other dangerous drugs like dagga, ganja cakes, a banned cough syrup called BronCleer (bronco), and illicit beers known as “musombodhiya” in street lingo. , crystal meth dominates the serious end of the addiction spectrum.
Of the 100 or so cases involving crystal meth seen by the Harare Magistrates’ Court in the past three months, 23 women affected.
So far, three people have since been convicted and jailed for possession of crystal meth.
A woman, Tabeth Chakabveyo, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for possession of crystal meth while Matthew Hopkins was sentenced to four years in prison. Tonderai Sekiwa was jailed for 28 months for dangerous drugs.
However, two suspects, George Banda and Simon Simon were acquitted of illegal possession of crystal meth.
Statistics also show that four of the suspects, Norman Musariri, Takunda Chinembiri, Talent Ankoma and Clever Chidavaenzi, are on pending arrest warrants after failing to appear at their next hearing.
The other suspects are still in court and their cases are at different stages.
National Police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Paul Nyathi praised the people of Zimbabwe for their cooperation with the police in the fight against drug addiction.
Most of the arrests were made after informing the population.
“We have an operation targeting those who own or sell dangerous drugs and people are cooperating.
“Arrests are ongoing and we call on the public to continue to assist us with information leading to the arrest of addicts and suppliers of these dangerous drugs,” said A / Commr. Deputy Nyathi.
The two public psychiatric units of the two main referral hospitals in Harare are seeing more and more mental health cases linked to drug and substance abuse.
Among the hundreds of drug addicts who seek mental health assistance from Sally Mugabe Central Hospital and Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals each month are doctors, nurses, pharmacists, members of the security sector, students. university and college students and boarding school students.
This confirms that drug-induced mental illness is not just for the poor and unemployed who live in ghettos.
President Mnangagwa recently expressed concern about the rate of drug abuse in the country before ordering law enforcement officials to smoke and arrest drug traffickers who fuel and sometimes create markets.
He was speaking at the funeral of the late national hero, Father Emmanuel Ribeiro, at the acre of national heroes.
The president said tough measures will be taken to eradicate drug trafficking and violent crimes that threaten the moral fabric of the country.
While Parirenyatwa and Sally Mugabe are public institutions, those who can afford it can take their mentally ill relatives to private clinics as long as the patient is not violent and cooperates with the treatment.
If treatment is to be administered without cooperation, the patient should be admitted to a public facility.
It is only when there is a mandatory treatment order that a patient must be in a public hospital.
Parirenyatwa Hospital alone cares for around 800 mentally ill patients each month, most of the conditions being drug-related. Most patients receive help and go home on an outpatient basis, although some need to be admitted.
Admission is restricted to people with serious illnesses who cannot return home, while most of them are sent home after treatment.
Sally Mugabe Central Hospital senior nurse Mr Nelson Makore said the numbers were on the rise. He said that 70 percent of their psychiatric patients had drug-induced problems.
Parirenyatwa Hospital Group spokesperson Mr Linos Dhire said his hospital’s psychiatric unit was now overwhelmed.
“Yes, there is an increase in the number of young people coming to our mental health hospital with illnesses related to drug addiction and addiction. This has resulted in a huge workload in the hospital as most of these patients present as psychiatric emergencies, especially with assaults and suicide attempts. Under these circumstances, extensive nursing interventions are needed quickly as well as a lot of manpower to deal with such cases.
“As young people now abuse new forms of substances such as crystal meth, broncleer and other emerging drugs, practitioners are pressing to urgently address the knowledge gap on how to deal with these new forms of drug abuse. drug addiction and addiction, ”says Mr. Dhire.
Since the mental health unit treats an average of 800 patients per month, although most are outpatients, Mr Dhire said there was a need for more staff.