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Lolly lounges of Eldorado Park the new Sodom, Gomorrah of South Africa

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A local drug action deputy chairman Alister Fredericks talks to two men outside a lolly lounge in Eldorado Park during a routine raid. PHOTO | MAXINE BECKET  

By Peter Dube, TEA Special Correspondent

Posted  Saturday, August 22   2015 at  15:47

In Summary

Characteristics

  • Clothes are strewn all over the room.
  • None of these “homes” have a television or any furniture in the lounge.
  • Another common sight in each of these homes is people fast asleep at midday.
  • These lolly lounges have a foul smell and a lot of of tik packets (small packets where the dagga is packed).
  • The lolly lounges look normal on the outside but the one common thing about them is the broken window.
  • Most of the young people who frequent these places are loafers and do not go to work. The school-going kids skip lessons for weeks.

The lolly lounges of Eldorado Park, a coloured township south of Johannesburg, have become infamous for drugs, sex, rape and emotional abuse.

The name “lolly lounge” is derived from the glass pipe used to smoke drugs like crystal meth and tik and is shaped like a lollipop.

Many children have been rescued from the dens, some too traumatised to speak about their plight.

A 14-year-old girl who was recently rescued from a lolly lounge to a safehouse run by the Eldorado Park Local Anti-Drugs Committee refused to talk. She just cried.

A letter from the residents of Eldorado Park in 2013 prompted President Jacob Zuma to visit the community. They talked about children who were addicted to drugs, the danger to their health, and the pain suffered by the parents.

“Mr President, you need to actively assist, we will do this together. Help us dad, help us Mr President. 80,000 people are turning to you for help,” said the letter.

After Zuma’s promise to help clean up the drug problem, police turned the heat on drug lords, with many arrests. Up to 20 lolly lounges were closed down between May and July 2013. For a while it seemed that the battle was over, but soon the lounges started resurfacing and today the problem remains.

Two years down the line, tiny Extension 4 has close to 20 lolly lounges and just a fortnight ago during a routine supply reduction visit, three school-going kids aged four, six and nine were found in one of them.

Dereleen James, the mother whose plea led President Zuma to visit the besieged area, says the drug dens are ever emerging in the township.

“Lolly lounges are popping up everyday, we have been visiting and serving them with warning letters,” Ms James said.

Many of the young women, who have been dragged into prostitution and drug abuse inside these lounges, are often reported as missing by their families.

Fazil Carrim, a former drug addict who used to frequent lolly lounges, said “These places are in the open, right under our noses.”

Ms James added: “Young kids below age 10 are being exposed to these activities.”

The most common drugs used to hook the said girls include heroin and mandrax, as well as crystal meth (cat) and tik. Once the girls are hooked on these drugs, they have to pay their way sexually and are used to trap men to spend more money on drugs in these lounges.

So-called tournaments, where one girl has sex with many men for a fix, are the norm in these lounges. Apparently, the accepted “exchange” is that one round of sex with a man equals one hit from a lolly pipe.

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