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Police Minister names Drug Hotspots, Orders Police to get Tough on Druglords.

The Minister of Police, Mr. Nathi Mthethwa, said in a statement today that he has instructed senior SAPS officers to intensify investigations into major drug lords throughout the country, as part of the government’s National Drugs Masterplan.

The Minister identified Chatsworth and Phoenix in KwaZulu-Natal, Eldorado Park and Lenasia, in Gauteng, parts of the Northern Areas suburbs of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape and Mitchells Plain in the Western Cape as areas where police face serious problems in dealing with drug crimes.

“The illegal drug trade is big, nasty and violent,” said the Minister.  “Drug lords are evil people who simply do not care that they are destroying the lives of South African youngsters. They even recruit children to do their dirty business for them, so that they can remain hidden in the shadows.”

The Minister said he has been travelling around South Africa investigating the situation in areas that police intelligence identified as problem areas for policing. “Frequently, the challenges the police face are related to drugs and the violence that goes with the illegal drug trade,” he said.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS), a regional research organisation, noted in a 2002 report, 'Drugs and Crime in South Africa', that of the 2,859 people arrested over a two-year period in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town for serious crimes, including murder, attempted murder, rape and aggravated assault, 46 percent tested positive for at least one illegal substance.

In the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, tik (methamphetamine) is a serious problem and in Gauteng and KZN, nyaope (also known as ‘whoonga’ or ‘sugars’) poses serious health risks to users. Nyaope is a highly addictive mixture of cocaine and heroin, of such low purity that it is often mixed with rat poison to assist it in passing into the bloodstream. AIDS anti-retroviral medication is also included in the recipe, which varies in content from place-to-place and time-to-time, creating even more health risks.

“Good community policing includes getting users off the street and, hopefully, into rehabilitation centres, but I have instructed SAPS that greater emphasis must be put into arresting and charging major drug figures,” said the Minister.

The Minister said the strategy includes disruptive actions of search and seizure, targeting certain individuals for intense investigation and ensuring adequate deployment of police in affected areas 

The work is already underway: in the Western Cape where gangsterism and drugs are deeply linked, Operation Combat a hundred-strong unit has had three major successes in the last three months. Life sentences have been handed to prominent figures in the Fancy Boy and 28s gangs with lesser figures being jailed for shorter terms. Other major drug lords are under investigation. Gauteng has formed specialised teams that are presently investigating five separate cases around major drug figures. Similar teams exist in other provinces. In KwaZulu-Natal police have adopted a multidisciplinary approach involving Crime Intelligence, detectives and the Hawks, specifically to investigate drug lords. Another major focus is on drugs that enter through ports of entry in KZN, Limpopo, Free State and Mpumalanga. 

The Minister said that the National Drug Master Plan recognises that drug use is a catalyst for crime, poverty, reduced productivity, unemployment, dysfunctional family life, political instability the escalation of chronic diseases, such as AIDS and TB, injury and premature death. “This chilling list is something that President Nelson Mandela cited in his opening address to Parliament in 1994, saying that it needed to be combated. Government now has a comprehensive strategy in place focused on better education, job creation and improved living standards,” said the Minister. “It is a broad-based strategy that includes rehabilitation programmes by the Social Development department, intervention on health related effects of drugs by the Department of Health and collaboration with appropriate NGOs.

“The police have already played a major role but I believe they must now take the fight to the big fish and deal with them with the full weight of the law.

“The Government recognises that unemployment and social ills are a significant factor in why people turn to drugs and has a sound strategy to deal with this deeply-troubling problem,” said the Minister, “But while the social issues are being addressed, it is important for the police to increase their efforts to catch the professional criminals who organise this trade and become rich doing so.”

The Minister urged those who have knowledge of drug dealing to tell the police. “Crime intelligence is vital if we are to catch the drug lords,” he said.  “Making our communities drug free is something we need to work on together.”

For further information please contact David Barritt on 082 603 3981

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