SAPS Flying Squad members have arrested two suspects and recovered Khat plants worth an estimated R600 000

On Thursday 11 April 2024 at about 19:50, Bloemfontein Flying Squad members operationalised intelligence about a minibus heading to Cape Town from Johannesburg. “Members kept patrolling the N1 and the vehicle fitting the description provided was spotted and stopped.  The driver, who was with a male passenger, was asked to exit the vehicle in order for police members to conduct a search,” police said. “Inside the vehicle, members found boxes with plants believed to be Khat. The value of the plants is worth an estimated R600 000.” The two males aged between 34 and 65, were arrested for dealing in drugs and the plants were confiscated. They will appear in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court soon.

According to the Drug and Alcohol Foundation Khat is a stimulant drug, that speeds up the messages between the brain and the body. “Chewing khat is part of some social traditions in parts of the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and in Eastern Africa, such as Somalia,” research shows. “The buds and leaves of the khat plant (Catha edulis) are chewed for stimulant and euphoric effects and traditionally have been used for medicinal purposes as well as recreationally. Khat contains cathinone and cathine, which are the chemicals that produce the stimulant effects. Khat leaves and buds can be chewed fresh, but may also be preserved by wrapping freshly picked khat in banana leaves, and then used dried.” Using khat is associated with mental health conditions such as psychosis which is similar to amphetamine psychosis. It has also been associated with depression, mood swings and violent behaviour. Research found that People who regularly use khat can become psychologically dependent on the drug. They may feel they need khat to go about their normal activities like working, studying and socialising, or just to get through the day.

Effects of khat

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.

Khat affects everyone differently, based on:

  • size, weight and health
  • whether the person is used to taking it
  • whether other drugs are taken around the same time
  • the amount taken.

Short term effects may include:

  • increased talkativeness
  • feeling energetic and social
  • alertness and improved concentration
  • faster heartbeat and breathing
  • slightly higher temperature and blood pressure
  • reduced appetite.1-3

The effects of khat start approximately 1 hour after chewing and last for around 3 and a half hours.

Coming down

The comedown effects of khat can last around 24 hours and include:

  • restlessness
  • Irritability
  • low mood

Long-term effects

Regular use of khat may eventually cause:

  • worsening of existing mental health problems
  • sleep-related issues
  • liver disease
  • fertility problems, such as impotence and lower sperm count
  • digestive problems such as constipation
  • sore, inflamed mouth
  • psychological dependence
  • mouth cancer.

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