Watch your drink By Noela Oyuga THE CITIZEN Partygoers beware! There are predators on the prowl, who could turn your merrymaking into the most horrifying moment of your life if you let your guard down.Dar es Salaam is teeming with these youthful, smart, and suave, smooth-talking criminals, who have left unsuspecting females ruing the day they were lured to those upmarket joints, only to be drugged. Some of the women have ended up being raped and exposed to possible HIV infection and pregnancy by people they hardly knew. Some will be acquaintances they might never have the entertained the idea of going to bed with. Others will be strangers they might just have got talking to in the bar, with no intention of taking things further. The victims often suffer from the anguish, embarrassment and shame of having fallen prey to the manipulation, thanks to a little recklessness or naiveté for which they have to pay a heavy price. However, many of the women who are sexually assaulted by such brutes have been shy to report the incidents. But dont be mistaken. Women are not the only victims of this mounting crime. Men, too, have fallen prey to the crooks, who spike drinks at upmarket entertainment spots, and end up being sexually assaulted. They, too, get so devastated that they wont readily come out to report the incidents, fearing acute embarrassment. Police in Dar es Salaam are warning revellers to exercise caution and always keep a close eye on their drinks, lest the evil-minded opportunists spike them. Because cases of date rape are normally hard to prove, in many instances women choose to keep quiet to avoid having to endure long, embarrassing and protracted legal battles. One of the past victims confided to The Citizen that she chose to keep quiet after being drugged and raped by a man who had been chatting her up. She said she started feeling dizzy after sipping her drink and everything went blank until the next morning, when she found herself in bed with him. She felt too embarrassed to raise the matter as the man was an acquaintance, and it would have sounded unconvincing if she had reported to the authorities. He had never made passes at her in all their previous encounters. When he finally invited her to have a drink with him at a nightclub she didnt suspect that he had an ulterior motive. While still at the club, I remember feeling nauseated and having a piercing headache moments later, she recalls. According to the Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone deputy commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police Charles Kenyella, cases of women getting raped after being drugged are on the increase, but not many are reported. He told The Citizen that many victims did not report the incidents, as they felt ashamed, having got raped after going to nightclubs. It was also difficult to gather tangible evidence to prove such cases, he said, adding: Most of the victims are simply too embarrassed to report such incidents. What complicates matters, according to research, is that most date-rape criminals are known to their assailants. The most likely criminals, Mr Kenyella said, were jilted lovers or casual acquaintances the victims had met at drinking places. A survey by The Citizen established that Ketamine and Rohypnol are the most popular date-rape drugs. But, word has it that some sexual predators use cocaine to subdue their victims. Most of the drugs, including Ketamine, are manufactured for medical use but fall into the hands of criminals. Ketamine has hypnotic (sleep producing), analgesic (pain relieving), and amnesic (short-term memory loss) effects, making it the drug of choice for criminals. According to Dr Tommy Maganda, who runs a dispensary at Kinondoni in Dar es Salaam, the drugging cases are common and easy to detect. Some of the obvious signs include dizziness, lack of awareness and loss of consciousness. The drugs often have no colour, odour or taste and are easily added to drinks without the victims knowledge. When people are drugged their ability to make appropriate decisions is impaired. They remain responsive physically but are unaware of what is happening to them. They can be led easily, he said, warning that the effect could linger on for up to four days depending on the quantity of drugs taken.