Krokodil — a deadly opiate known as the zombie drug because it eats holes in the flesh of users — has raised its scaly head in South Africa.
Cooked from codeine tablets available across the counter from pharmacies, the drug, desomorphine, has killed two addicts in Port Elizabeth.
Its use as a recreational drug was first recorded in Russia about 10 years ago, where, in six years, usage ballooned to more than a million.
Krokodil’s attraction is that it offers a heroin-like high for as little as R20 — about 20% of heroin’s street price.
The mother of one of the Port Elizabeth victims accused the authorities of being in denial about krokodil.
“In Port Elizabeth there are technically no krokodil addicts because of the denial factor. It is not spoken of but is silently consumed and abused,” said Martha Dean.
Asked about its prevalence, and how the department of health is responding to it, ministry spokes- person Joe Maila said: “I don’t even know what you talking about.”
Krokodil made local headlines in July last year when Port Elizabeth’s Herald newspaper reported that Dean staged a protest outside the magistrate’s court where her 25-year- old daughter was appearing on a charge of possessing the drug.
‘The drug changed her from a good Christian girl into one of Port Elizabeth’s highest-paid prostitutes’
“Mr Magistrate please don’t ‘free’ my daughter to die on the streets,” read the placard she was carrying.
The court ordered Bonita Dean to be sent to the nearby Noupoort Rehabilitation Centre.