Pubdate: Fri, 24 Dec 2004
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2004 Cape Argus.


A "drug triangle" is how Sea Point police describe the area they say 
dealers are operating in 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

They say Main, Hall and Firmount roads in Sea Point form a hotspot which a 
police spokesperson confirmed was an area in which "all sorts of drugs" 
could be bought.

A resident invited the Cape Argus to watch the activities from his home, 
which offers a view of Firmount Road. We immediately see a group of about 
15 men, apparently foreigners, standing around on the pavements.

About 20 minutes after we arrive at our host's apartment, two women walk 
across Main Road to the Firmount Road side. They are accompanied by a 
middle-aged, dreadlocked man.

"You see that guy? He calls himself the King of Sea Point," says our host 
who wants to remain anonymous. "He is the main man; he organises everything."

The women walk with the man into a shop and a minute later they come out.

"That (shop) is just a cover for their drug dealing," says our host.

The three people walk towards Firmount Road, but as they reach the corner, 
a police van drives towards them and they immediately turn back. They 
continue across the road and we lose sight of them.

The police van stops at Firmount Road and two policemen get out.

A man comes to speak to them. The policemen get back into their van and the 
man, on the passenger's side of the van, talks to them. A little later the 
policemen drive off.

About 30 minutes later, another police van drives down the street and the 
group of about 15 men in the street scatter. Some pretend to be walking 
down the road while others go into nearby restaurants.

"You see some of the cops are pally-pally with these guys because they are 
part of this whole thing, that's why those guys never moved (when the first 
van appeared)," says our host.

"They scatter when other vans come because those are the people who don't 
work with them."

In less than two hours, our team witnesses another incident which leads us 
to believe that a drug deal has been struck. It involves two men who looked 
under the age of 20. They stop and appear to be making an order and then 
walk to a restaurant down the road. They then came back and we see things 
being exchanged.

The resident says he has been monitoring drug-dealing since 1994 and the 
police have done little to curb the problem. "We want to put up cameras 
facing the Firmount Road to pick up all the buyers stopping here.

"We want to expose them to the companies they work for, church groups, 
social clubs ... we want to show their car registration numbers in 
newspapers (using these cameras)," says our host.

"If there are no buyers then there will be no dealers."

A Sea Point police station spokesman, who identified himself as Inspector 
Pens, confirmed that police were "aware" of drug-dealing in Firmount Road. 
He said: "All the drug-dealing happens on Firmount Road and Regent Road. 
All these people hang out there near Steers (in Hall Road). They are the 
people dealing drugs."

He said the police had arrested about 10 drug dealers this month and they 
had deployed plainclothes policemen to deal with the problem. "(Our 
policing) is effective but we can only work on information that we receive 
from the public."

My host insists that he has informed the police of dealing many times but 
also concedes that "they don't have enough personnel to deal with the problem".

When the police spokesperson was asked about allegation of police working 
with the dealers, he said: "I can't give you more information."

Our host also says drug-dealing has impacted negatively on the property 
value in the area. A spokesperson for a Sea Point-based estate agency, who 
also wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that property in the area was 
being devalued by the drug- dealing.

"The bad element in the area has definitely affected the prices," she said.

Our host told us about common strategies that dealers used to distribute 
the drugs.

Drugs are kept in a flat overlooking Main Road and a tenant drops the drugs 
on the pavement. They are then picked up by waiting men and sold. 
Cellphones play a key role in communicating with the tenant.

Other drugs are hidden in the mudguards of the cars parked in Firmount Road 
so that the men are not caught with the drugs. A car pulls into a parking 
lot in Main Road and the driver places an order with the men waiting there. 
A dealer then goes to the cars parked in Firmount Road.

He pretends to be chatting as he leans against the cars while another 
reaches for the mudguard and takes the drugs out.

The dealer then goes into a supermarket and "pretends to buy something". He 
comes out with a parcel which is delivered to the buyer in his car.

A buyer walks past the men and makes an order. The buyer proceeds to a 
restaurant of his/her choice to eat. Drugs are either dropped down from the 
flat or taken from the mudguard.

The men go around the block and delivers the drug to the buyer.
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