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Self-destructing ‘Zombies’: Drug Abuse Haunts Harare

With the sun setting, young girls in their semi-nude outfits are patrolling the grocery shops at Empress Mine township.

The mine township is deserted during the day but by night fall, people swarm the beer halls like ants on the hills of the savanna.

Besides augmenting their entertainment with alcohol and loud music, some at the mine have developed a habit of taking an illegal drug they call “murigasi-gone”.

“When I take the pill, it literally takes me to another heaven. I get high faster than when I am merely drinking my lager, the feeling is out of this world,” said one young man, who only identified himself as Tonde.

He is one of the many people addicted to the drug.
Drug and Alcohol Abuse Haunts the Nation of Zimbabwe 

“The drug is ideal, it is quite cheap and allows me to save money but, still I get high. Imagine with just a dollar I get 10 pills whereas if I am buying beers, it is just one bottle on a dollar.”

“Murigasi-gone” is a mental illness drug that is allegedly being smuggled from neighbouring countries, particularly Zambia.

The prevalence of the drug in the mining compound has been an issue of concern to the community’s elders, who expect better from the younger generation.

“ . . . I don’t know who brought the drug into our community but it is making the young boys appear like zombies that we see in movies,” complained Mr Kevin Kanengoni.

Mr Kanengoni, who is in his early 50s, said he is equally concerned about the young girls who end up being victims of sexual abuse after taking the drug.

“The drug makes people numb and I doubt if they can even recall what would have happened to them after taking it. Sometimes I feel sorry for the teenage girls whom I see being dragged away in an intoxicated state. Who knows what will be done to them after leaving the open space?” said Mr Kanengoni.

“In some cases, we see the drug addicts sleeping at the beerhall premises like they are destitutes. I think the drug has an effect of shutting down the consumer’s humanity. At times we see these young people semi-naked, with their trousers dropped to thigh level.”

Abuse of these mental illness drugs comes with short and long-term health implications.

A psychiatrist, who requested anonymity for professional reasons said those who abuse mental illness drugs are at high risk of developing high blood pressure, seizures, hormonal imbalances and ultimately dysfunction of se.xual organs.

“There is also a possibility that such drug abusers can have regular fits. This is mainly because the mental illness drugs is meant to reduce the level of seizures in a psychiatric patient but causes fits in a normal person.

“Everyone has a standard level of seizure whether you are epileptic or not, but if the level is reduced or increased, it becomes another health problem.

“Persistent abuse of the drugs has high chances of causing a low sex drive in women and in some cases cause dryness of the sexual organ. On the other hand, males can develop hormonal imbalances that will see them developing some breasts.

“The drugs can also stimulate mental disorders within an individual. Thus in the long term, the mental disorders develops into a chronic condition.”

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