Despite several successful drug busts throughout the province recently, the fight is far from over as police tackle mushrooming drug factories and cheaper drugs hitting the streets.
Recently the Hawks made their largest drug bust in the history of the Eastern Cape when a drug lab manufacturing crystal methamphetamine ( tik ) was accidentally discovered in the upmarket suburb of Vincent Heights.
The lab was found inside a double garage of a luxurious four-bedroom property with materials and equipment to manufacture the drug. This was followed less than a week later when R70-million worth of drugs were found in a flat in Belgravia.
Provincial police spokesman Captain Khaya Tonjeni said they were working around the clock with their zero tolerance approach to clamp down on distributors and manufacturers.
“In recent incidents we have intercepted copious volumes of drugs in transit and also arrested and destroyed drug producing labs within the province. This means that drug peddlers are not only exporting drugs from outside, they are also starting to produce them within our perimeters.
“Our zero tolerance approach to drugs has also resulted in police changing and updating anti-drug fighting strategies where we do not only focus on small dealers and distributors, but now focus on big dealers, producers and distributors in order to hit hard on the backbone of this illicit trade.”
Tonjeni said: “Through our regular vehicle stop and checks, our members have confiscated volumes of dagga, crystal meth (tik), mandrax tablets and cocaine, some substances are packed and packaged for sale or transported to other destinations. The supply of drugs used to affect urban areas but now it has extended to remote rural areas in the province.
Tonjeni said abuse and reliance on drugs is a major cause for concern, especially among the youth.
“When young people start the drug use habit, they have to look for a steady income to sustain the habit and end up turning to criminal activities like theft, shoplifting, burglary or robbery. When adults experiment with drugs it affects the family’s financial planning and often leads to family breakdown.”
According to South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) senior social worker Rhiannon Bond abuse of cannabis, the main gateway drug, increased in 2016, but slightly decreased in 2017, while abuse of other substances like alcohol and tik sky-rocketed.
“Cannabis is still the primary substance of choice for the population of under 20 years of age, with over 20s abusing alcohol, cannabis, mandrax, cocaine and tik.
“Sanca’s urban dwelling clients predominantly seek help for addiction to alcohol, ‘party drugs’ like cocaine, and tik, while the rural dwelling clients seek help for addiction to cannabis, mandrax, nyope and alcohol.
Bond said most of their adolescent clients are brought in by a parent or referred to them by their school.
“Interestingly they [adolescents] report experimentation with other substances like mandrax and tik as well as cannabis and alcohol, which are the most common gateway substances abused by teens,” she said.
Bond said the most important factor in dealing with all addictions is for the person to seek help as soon as possible.
“Sanca offers a range of treatment options for all clients who are willing to undergo treatment, as well as a weekly support group for addicts who are active and in recovery, and for their family and loved ones,” she said. — firstname.lastname@example.org