The narcotic weed khat from east Africa has found its way to the Cape and is becoming part of the increasing problem of drug usage on the Cape Flats.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Earlier this week police arrested a number of Somali nationals and confiscated a huge amount of khat leaves that were smuggled into the city.
Members of the Western Cape Flying Squad were conducting a house search in the Bellville area following a tip-off on illegal drug activities taking place on the premises.
“The swift reaction of the members led to the discovery of 222 bunches of khat in a flat,” said Capt Frederick van Wyk, media liaison officer of the SAPS.
The police arrested eight Somalian nationals – six men and two women – for possession of the narcotic.
They will be appearing in court today.
Van Wyk told The New Age that this was not the first time that khat busts were carried out in the Cape.
The leaves were previously illegally used mainly by people from East Africa but, according to Van Wyk, the drug was now also being used by locals.
According to scientific analyses, the khat leaves contain psychoactive ingredients, cathine and cathinone, which are similar to amphetamines.
The leaves are chewed slowly and induce a euphoric state, feelings of increased alertness and arousal.
While being imbibed into the body, the drug causes an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
The effect can last for up to three hours.
Users, after the high, can become depressed, experience loss of appetite and sleep disorders.
Nightmares and trembling continue for days after chewing, but there is no scientific evidence that the drug causes addiction or dependence.