Police are stepping up the fight against drugs in the country and has declared war on drug lords.
The then Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has ordered senior SAPS officers to intensify investigations into major drug lords throughout the country.
The Minister has 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 and violent. 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,” said Minister Mthethwa.
The Police Ministry is tightening the screws on drug dealers as part of government’s National Drugs Master Plan.
Minister Mthethwa said the National Drug Master Plan recognises that drug use is a catalyst for crime, poverty, reduced productivity, unemployment, dysfunctional family life and premature death, among others.
“Government now has a comprehensive strategy in place focused on better education, job creation and improved living standards. 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 non-government organisations,” he said.
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, often mixed with rat poison and ARVs.
Minister Mthethwa said the drug master plan includes search and seizures, targeting certain individuals for intense investigation and ensuring adequate deployment of police in affected areas.
“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 on arresting and charging major drug figures,” said the Minister.
In the Western Cape, where gangsterism and drugs are interlinked, Operation Combat (a 100-strong unit) has had major successes in the recent months. Life sentences have been handed to prominent figures in the Fancy Boy and 28s gangs, with others being jailed for shorter terms. Other major drug lords are under investigation.
Gauteng has formed specialised teams that are currently 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 and Mpumalanga.
“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,” he added.
Minister Mthethwa urged those with knowledge of drug dealing to pass this information to police.
“Crime intelligence is vital if we are to catch the drug lords. Making our communities drug-free is something we need to work on together,” he said.