DOH welcomes whoonga arrests

Drug addicts stealing ARVs, mixing with dagga, strepsils and rat poison

Health department welcomes antiretroviral (ARV) arrests

16 Jan 2011

The Department of Health welcomes the arrest of two men believed to be part of a syndicate that steals ARVs and sell them for use in the manufacturing of the drug "whoonga". Whoonga is a highly addictive mixture containing stocrin, dagga, Strepsils and rat poison.

The pair was arrested in the Ekurhuleni this past Thursday after they were found by the police to be in possession of ARVs worth R200 000.

The Department of Health is highly worried by this practice of using ARVs to manufacture "whoonga" as ARVs forms a very important element in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Since his appointment as Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has been working tirelessly in ensuring that ARVs are available to those who are in need of them.

Recently, the Health Minister succeeded in massively bringing down the cost of ARVs as part of his efforts to ensure that these life saving drugs are available to those who need them.

The Department of Health would like to appeal to patients who are on ARVs to work with it in ensuring that these drugs do not find their way into the hands of criminals. On their part, health workers are also expected to be vigilant and professional in their dispensing of these drugs.

All efforts by the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the fight against the abuse of drugs in our society are highly commended. The department is also confident that the country's justice system will deal severely with those who are involved in any syndicates responsible in the theft of ARVs and their use in manufacturing the lethal "whoonga".

The abuse of drugs in our society contributes to the scourge of violence and death which in turn puts a huge burden on our country's health care system.

Statement issued by Fidel Hadebe, Department of Health, January 16 2011

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