A litte over a month ago, Durban received some cooking, heaving swell, which generated some serious froth. The swell brought many good things, but along with people getting shacked left, right and centre, it exposed a darker side to Durban. Following large waves that hit the beachfront, hundreds of used syringes littered the promenade. The source of the syringes was initially believed to be medical waste. After some investigation, a local NGO working with drug addicts was identified as the main source of the multiple used needles and drug contaminated syringes that had washed up on Durban’s beaches.
Two days ago deputy mayor Fawzia Peer told the City’s executive committee (Exco) that the investigation had established that the syringes originated from an NGO called TB HIV Care, which distributes them to drug users. Peer told the committee that the City’s legal department would be engaged to check on the legality of the distribution of these syringes.
“When an investigation was done we found that some of the syringes had drugs in them. The committee found that this is not controlled well. When a youngster uses a syringe they just throw them anywhere” said Peer.
It seemed as if the syringes were given “willy nilly” to vagrants and drug users, however correct control measures were not in place. Peer added that the city had also established that the NGO has a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with both the provincial and national health departments.
The NGO said the aim of supplying syringes was to reduce and prevent HIV infections and other blood-borne infections. TB HIV Care spokesperson Alison Best said as soon as the organisation was alerted to the syringes being washed out from under the piers, they responded by sending a team which worked with eThekwini municipality to clean up.
“Other factors which lead to the unsafe disposal of needles and syringes are: lack of appropriate needle disposal points, lack of safe injecting spaces, increased arrests of people who inject drugs, and laws that criminalise the possession of used or unused injecting equipment,” said Best.
It is advised that if you accidentally get pricked by one of these discarded syringes that you seek medical attention.