By: Anna Majavu
After falling victim to a spiked drink in a bar last year, Limpopo-born Matokelo Notwane vowed not to allow the same thing to happen to other women. “I went out to this establishment whose name I won’t mention, ordered my drink and then stepped out to the bathroom. After I came back from the bathroom and consumed the drink, I felt a bit weird, so I went straight home. And I just passed out when I got there,” said Notwane, 26.
When she woke up the following day, “I realised something was not ok. I looked up possible reasons of how I could feel like this after consuming one drink”, she said. It was then that Notwane realised that her drink had been spiked and that she was fortunate to have made it home without being attacked. She began researching products sold in other countries to prevent drink spiking.
With financial support from her father, the Midrand-based Notwane swung into the production of Khapped, which are latex drink covers that she sells for R45 for one or R460 for a 12-pack. This is not the first drink-spiking prevention product on the market. Two years ago, KwaZulu-Natal-based Peach Piche unveiled the Drinkerbell scrunchie made of bright, water-resistant cloth that she produced after her 22-year-old daughter’s drink was spiked in a bar.
Notwane’s product has struck a chord with consumers – Khapped went viral on social media last week, with a Kasi Economy tweet about the product viewed 36,600 times. She recommends that people use one Khapped cover per night, on multiple drinks. Notwane also posts all customers an ‘Awareness Chart’ with their order, informing women that spiked drinks usually change colour, can be cloudy with excessive bubbles, and have ice blocks that sink rapidly.
The covers are a strong deterrent to men who need only two seconds to drop drugs such as Rohypnol and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate into a drink when its owner’s head is turned. But according to Notwane, women should never leave even a covered drink alone on a table or bar. In fact, one customer contacted her to say she took this advice seriously and carried her drink with her to the bathroom once she had covered it.
Like many local entrepreneurs, Notwane has the products made overseas after being unable to find a local factory that could make the drink covers and could also keep production running during load-shedding. However, Notwane’s aim is to grow the business locally and employ as many local people as possible. “I want to help other people. South Africa has such a high unemployment rate, if I can grow my brand and venture into other businesses as well, I hope to employ a lot of people from my neighbouring communities,” Notwane said.