Durban – “I nearly lost my daughter.”
Those were the words of a distraught Durban father who had to rush his 15-year-old to hospital after her drink was “spiked” in Umhlanga at the weekend.
A number of tablets – thought to be ecstasy – were seized from the area and at least one other child was admitted to hospital that night.
“That phone call is every parent’s worst nightmare,” the devastated father told The Mercury on Sunday. “You think it will never happen to you.”
He said his daughter was going to an under-18 Party in the Park event at Chris Saunders Park, near Gateway, on Friday evening.
She had not yet entered the party venue and was in a large group that had gathered outside when she took a sip of what she believed to be Sprite, offered to her by a male in the group.
The next thing the girl remembered was feeling dizzy. “It got worse and she quickly realised she was losing control of her body and collapsed,” her father said.
Fortunately, a friend found her.
“He grabbed her and looked in her eyes and he said he could see straight away that she wasn’t just drunk.”
The Durban North Umhlanga Crisis Team came to her aid and phoned her father.
Terrified, he immediately asked if she had been raped. Thankfully, the answer was no.
“I went through there and she was completely spaced out,” he said.
He raced his daughter to Umhlanga Hospital where it was discovered that her blood pressure was dangerously low.
She spent two nights in hospital, before she was discharged on Sunday.
“Physically, she’s fine,” her father said, “but emotionally, she’s not.”
He said his daughter was “blank and withdrawn”.
“The innocence is gone,” he said.
The family were still awaiting the results of blood and urine tests on Sunday, but the man said initial indications were that there was an illegal substance in his daughter’s system.
The man was quick to say that, “to the credit and defence” of the party organisers, security within the confines of the party venue was very strict.
“The problem is the area outside,” he said.
“I’m relieved that my daughter is okay, but parents need to know what’s going on and I’m adamant to spread the word.”
Contract manager at Enforce Security Services, Dean O’Brien, said more than 100 tablets – thought to be ecstasy – were seized from the area on Friday night.
They were to be handed over to police on Monday.
Several bottles of alcohol were also confiscated and, O’Brien said, they discovered teenagers were filling milkshake cups with cough syrup and drinking it.
He said a young boy was taken to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital that night.
He said officers were confiscating alcohol and drugs from teenagers and children – as young as 11 – regularly.
The most common drugs were dagga and ecstasy.
Party in the Park event organisers on Sunday repeated the extreme measures they employed to ensure the safety of those attending their parties.
Owner Rowan Clelland said the parties were organised with the express purpose of providing a safe environment for the youth and that they worked closely with the SAPS, metro police and Red Frogs and employed private security.
The parties had been running for more than three years and Friday’s event had been successful and without incident, he said.
While he felt for the young girl whose drink had allegedly been spiked, he said it sounded as though the incident had nothing to do with his event.
“It happened on the fringes.”
He also said he had yet to be contacted by anyone in connection with the incident.
Those attending Party in the Park events were checked three times by security before they were allowed in.
And if they were intoxicated, they were refused entry and their parents were contacted.
Passouts were not allowed.
O’Brien and Clelland both urged parents to drop their children at the entrances to events they were supposed to be attending and see that they got in, as opposed to dropping them at a shopping centre or in the general vicinity.
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane said nothing had yet been reported to police.