In an deserted shack in a suburb of Kinshasa a younger man slits open a bag of brown powder, mixing it with a few crushed capsules utilizing the again of a spoon, earlier than snorting the combination, referred to as “bombe”, along with his pals.
“This is really good quality, you know the attraction to the drug is higher than the attraction of being with a woman. We are going to consume everything, we won’t leave anything in the bag. We will add a bit of powder in the cigarette, and the rest we’ll mix with C4 (Diazepam) and Nutriline,” Says the unidentified man.
Inside minutes the trio are swaying slowly, scratching themselves in a semi-comatose zombie state that specialists within the Democratic Republic of Congo say may cause customers to face immobile for hours, or sleep for days.
“We prefer to take bombe rather than other drugs because it makes us feel good, it slows us down for a long time, in doing so we don’t go steal things and create problems. Before we didn’t know that bombe existed, we used to drink very strong whiskey made by indians, we were agitated and we started to hurt people, but with bombe, it calms you down, you get tired, you stay somewhere standing up or sitting down for a very long time. When you’re done, you go home without bothering anyone,” says Cedrick, chief of the Nzigoula 26 Gang.
Drivers, police, and drug specialists aren’t so sanguine.
Authorities are rattled. In August police rounded up and paraded almost 100 alleged sellers and customers of bombe, which implies “powerful” within the native Lingala language following a name to motion by President Felix Tshisekedi.
Police confirmed barrels stuffed with exhaust filters items which the house owners claimed had been to be despatched to Germany and never for native consumption.
Mechanics blame spiking demand for the drug on a rash of thefts of catalytic converters, the ceramic honeycomb, coated with metals reminiscent of platinum, which scale back the emission of poisonous gases in car exhaust pipes.
Mechanic Tresore Kadogo says between 5 and ten shoppers come to him every single day with the identical downside.
“You see this is the catalyser, that’s where you find the material for bombe. Often when clients come to the shop, we check underneath the car and the catalyser is gone already, it’s been cut off and the car will have a strange sound. Here in Kinshasa, we don’t sell catalysers for vehicles, so we have to order it in Europe, it’s expensive. This one is lucky, he still has his catalyser,” he mentioned mendacity beneath a automotive displaying the place the exhaust pipe catalysers are usually discovered.
Customers combine the crushed honeycomb with vitamin capsules and sometimes add sleeping capsules or smoke it with tobacco, however nothing is thought about the way it works, or its long-term results, mentioned Dandy Yela Y’Olemba, nation director of the World Federation in opposition to Medication.
The metals in catalytic converters may cause most cancers, Yela warned.
“This is a substance made to be used in an engine, in cars, we have food, we have things to take for our body, we do not have to take substances made for cars. Because if we are announcing that, ok alright, it’s normal and we start taking substances made for cars, the question is are we engines or are we human person?”