Parents opt for DIY drug kits
Desperate to keep their children off drugs, parents are turning to home drug tests.
A Durban North family are forced to test their 14-year-old daughter weekly.
"No one expects their 14-year-old daughter to be smoking dagga. We never suspected it and when her 11-year-old friend's mother contacted me to say that they were both high, I was horrified," her mother said.
"We educated her on the consequences of drug abuse and while we might say that we trust our child, without the home test we cannot have peace of mind."
Initially the girl refused to be tested at home.
"It was obvious that she still wanted to smoke dagga and that the test would catch her out. But once we got counselling she slowly eased into taking the test.
"We allow her to go to friends' birthday parties and to visit her friends but she knows that our tests will tell us what she has been up to. I believe that if we continue until she is 18 she will not take drugs."
The Chatsworth Anti-drug Forum has been active in the fight against "sugars" - a mixture of cocaine, heroin and rat poison - but dagga has become the entry-level drug for pupils nationally.
"We have to target primary school children because we realised that educating them in high school is just too late. If regular home tests keep children from falling prey to peer pressure, then I believe it's a positive step forward," the forum's chairman, Sam Pillay, said.
He said the first test should be done by a medical professional.
Three months ago, Bayview Community Policing Forum member Denzil Davan imported home kits to combat drug abuse in Chatsworth, south of Durban. He has since sold more than 1000 of them to parents in Durban and Cape Town.
"The average cost of any drug kit is about R300 and it can only be used twice. I managed to get these kits and sell them to parents for about R25 with little profit. I know the desperate situation we are currently faced with. Parents have no alternative but to use these tests to investigate their suspicions or as a preventative measure," Davan said.
Drug Testing Africa, a supplier of home and professional testing kits, receives inquiries on home tests daily but discourages parents from using home kits.
"There are a lot of kits out there that can be bought online or over the counter but most often they are of inferior quality and the results, if inaccurate, could lead to tragic consequences," CEO Imelda Neate said.
Many tested children know how to rig the results by spiking the specimen, she said.
Childline national director Joan van Niekerk said home drug tests could serve as a deterrent.
"To reduce the risks of devastating consequences, parents should be open about the tests. Their children should know that they are being tested and they should be made aware of the consequences of being caught," Van Niekerk said.