Drink spiking is rife in SA

Winona Griggs

Drink Spiking: A Hidden Danger in South Africa

Did you know that drink spiking happens more often than you might imagine? It’s true, and it’s a serious issue here in South Africa. I recently learned about the TEARS Foundation, an organization that provides a free and survivor-focused support service for people who have experienced rape and sexual abuse. They shared some eye-opening information with me, and I wanted to pass it along to you.

Drink spiking is rife in SA

“You know, it’s a really tough truth to digest, but, unfortunately, drink spiking and rape, sexual assault, abuse, and violence often happen together. It’s a scary thought, but if you ever find yourself suspecting that you’ve experienced any form of physical or sexual assault, it’s crucial that you reach out to someone you trust.”

“Hey there, it’s me, Seugnette van Wyngaard! I’m the Head of 1st for Women, and I wanted to talk to you about something super important. You know, our anti-abuse Foundation works closely with TEARS, and we’re all about keeping women safe.

Now, here’s the thing: sometimes, people can unknowingly drug your drink. It’s scary, I know, but it’s important to stay vigilant. If this ever happens to you, there are some signs you should look out for. You might feel dizzy, nauseous, sleepy, confused, or have trouble with basic motor skills. Your vision might get all blurry, and your speech might sound slurred. If you experience any of these things, it’s time to take action.

First things first, you need to seek medical help right away. Go to the emergency room and have someone you trust take you there. When you get there, make sure to tell the medical team what happened. They’re there to help you, and they need to know the whole story.

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One important thing to remember is to ask for a urine test as soon as possible. This test can help them look for any drugs in your system before your body gets rid of them. The sooner they can find evidence, the better chance they have of helping you.

So, my dear, if you ever suspect that your drink has been spiked or that someone drugged and assaulted you, don’t wait. Take action and get the help you need. We’re here for you, and we’ll support you every step of the way. Stay strong!”

“Hey there, I’m Peach Piche, the Founder of Drinkerbell. We’ve come up with this amazing product to tackle drink spiking head-on. You won’t believe how widespread this problem is in South Africa. It affects people of all ages, from a 14-year-old teenager to a 70-year-old woman. House parties, corporate events, restaurants, festivals, pubs, and clubs – nowhere is safe.”

Now, we don’t have official stats for drink spiking in South Africa, but let’s take a look at what’s been happening globally. In Australia, reports of drink spiking have skyrocketed by almost 50% since before the pandemic. And over in the UK, a shocking one in nine women have experienced the terror of having their drink spiked.

“It’s a crime, and we need to keep track of the numbers to bring attention to it and catch the people responsible for robbing others of their choice and assaulting them,” says Piche. She created the Drinkerbell product after her daughter was targeted and almost lost her life.

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And it’s not just about alcohol – water and soft drinks are spiked too, with drugs like Rohypnol and other concoctions. Drink spikers have a sneaky strategy – they distract their victims and slip drops, tablets, or powder into their drinks. This leaves the victims vulnerable to criminals who might attack them right there, or disguise themselves as friends, loved ones, or helpful strangers, offering to escort them to a “safe place.”

To help keep you safe in South Africa, we have some helpful advice from 1st for Women, TEARS, and Drinkerbell:

  • Stay together: When going out, always go with a friend or group. Keep an eye on each other and if someone is acting strange, it’s better to leave together.
  • Beware of strangers: Never accept a drink from someone you don’t know and never leave your drink unattended. Leaving your drink open or unattended can make you an easy target. Even if someone you know well buys you a drink, make sure you see it being poured.
  • Protect your drink: Use a tool like Drinkerbell and ask a trusted friend to watch your drink when you’re not around. It can make a big difference and potentially save your life.
  • Taste test: Sometimes it’s difficult to know if your drink has been spiked, but if it tastes different than usual – maybe sweeter or fizzier – it’s best not to drink it. And be cautious if someone is pushing you to finish your drink quickly.
  • Wingwoman: Keep an eye on your friends and protect them from strangers. Watch their drinks and notice any changes in their behavior. If you think someone, even a stranger, is being targeted, step in to help or notify security or the establishment’s manager.
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“The worst mistake you can make is thinking ‘it can’t happen to me’. It could happen if you’re not careful. Drink spiking is surprisingly simple, as one social experiment recently showed,” van Wyngaard concludes.

If you need assistance, no matter the time or day, you can reach out to TEARS. They prioritize access and privacy for survivors of sexual assault and gender-based violence (GBV).

To get help immediately, just dial *134*7355# and press 2 for emergencies. A first responder will be in touch. This service is available 24/7 and is completely free.

For more information and resources, visit their website at https://tears.storefind.mobi/.

You can also reach them via their helpline at 010 590 5920. Standard rates apply.

If you prefer to correspond via email, you can send a message to [email protected]

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