'Selling drugs gives me bread'

WITH a big lollipop occasionally being shoved in and out of his mouth in between conversations as a way of fending off hunger pangs associated with drug abuse, 26-year-old Takura Murove (not real name) is making a living from selling intoxicating cough mixtures and marijuana.

In most of Zimbabwe’s high density areas, hard drugs and cough mixtures have taken centre stage. “This is the kind of stuff that has put food on my table for the past five years,” said Murove in a joking manner before taking a pull on a pipe of weed which briefly makes him cough before passing on to his colleague.

Having last attempted supplementing ‘O’ Level exams in 2007 after only achieving three subjects since completing high school in 2005, the Chitungwiza-born and bred Murove has never been formally employed but is now a proud owner of a Mazda 323 old model car due to drug sales.

Murove said he started by just taking mbanje (marijuana) casually as a way to fend off boredom together with his peers in the hood.

“During the course of 2009 I got so much used to mbanje that I could no longer feel its effects. When I tried out ngoma (Bron cleer [bronco] and Histalix) it made me reach the highest levels and I felt so good,” he said.

Pressed on how he was financing his habits without any source of income, Murove broke into laughter and could not give a proper answer.

“Mudhara ndezvekungokiya kiya, ndaingoona yekutamba asi dzimwe nguva ndaimbotsabvura masinhi asisadiwe paZion (My elder, I just had to make ends meet in order to get high. At times I used to steal some items at home),” he said.

Born in a family of two boys and three girls, the drug hustler is the remaining son and his elder brother passed on in 2008 while two of his sisters are married and live in South Africa with their husbands.

“I am the one who is taking Yeukai (last born) to school. My father has been unemployed for almost 10 years while my mother is a housewife. Initially when they realised that I was selling mbanje, my parents wanted to throw me out of the house.
“But ever since I started buying food and paying some of the utility bills, they have learnt to accept the way I earn a living,” Murove said.

Murove has since established his base at one of Seke urban’s shopping centres and has a solid clientele base. “My supply of mbanje comes from Malawi through Nyamapanda. I got introduced to my current supplier by Elder Langaz who used to provide me with mbanje. Elder Langaz is the one who made me who I am today. Handitengese chidodo, Malawi chete wanguda (I don’t sell crap weed, I only sell cracker my dear brother),” he said.

He boasted that these days he was making more money from bronco rather than marijuana as ghetto youths always want to get high quickly.

I bought this car with the profit I made from selling ngoma. On a good day I sell more than 40 bottles a day at $3 each for Histalix. Bron cleer is cheaper and the lowest measure costs as little as a dollar,” Murove said.

These cough syrups are being sold on the parallel market after being legally purchased over the counter and being smuggled into Zimbabwe from South Africa by drug peddlers.
Murove revealed that his Histalix supply comes from a phamarcist who works at a government-owned hospital and he always gives a “cut” to his supplier.

Buoyed by the high returns that he is getting from trading the cough syrups, Murove is now contemplating a trip to South Africa to get his own supplies.

The popular cough syrups relieve the effects of allergies if used correctly but according to local health experts if abused they are potentially addictive and have devastating side effects.
“The side effects that are experienced are lack of co-ordination, mental confusion, visual hallucinations, blurred vision, dry mouth, urinary hesitancy and thickening of secretion. Other side effects are constipation, dizziness and hyperactivity,” a local health expert warned.

“These cough mixtures can cause drowsiness which can accelerate through the intake of alcohol. It can cause depression of the central nervous system which can progress to a coma.”
The expert added that the popular cough syrups have codeine in them. And when codeine is absorbed by the body it converts into morphine which in itself is a mild painkiller.

According to the health expert the codeine blocks the transmission of pain signals sent by the nerves to the brain.
Therefore, even though the cause of the pain may remain, less pain is actually felt.—Kudzai Chawafambira

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