Pubdate: Thu, 16 Feb 2006
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2006 Cape Argus.
Author: Natasha Prince


Behind the facade of lush forests and the blue sea hugging the Garden 
Route hides a dark underbelly of drug trafficking and abuse.

Over the past few months, there has been a marked increase in drug 
trafficking and drug-related crimes along the Garden Route and in 
other Southern Cape areas.

Police have arrested 444 people for drug-related crimes in the region 
over the last year, said spokesman Superintendent Billy Jones.

In Knysna, the main taxi rank has become a haven for drug dealing and 
more than 20 arrests have been made there in the past two months.

Police, who are targeting the drug supply chain in the popular 
tourist destination, say the drugs come from provinces up north.

Brenda Pienaar of the South African National Council for Alcohol and 
Drug Abuse (Sanca) in George says there has definitely been an 
increase in the number of drug addicts asking for help.

"We have had many more people coming for treatment and counselling," 
she said. "Usually it's for alcohol, but the harder drugs picked up 
seriously in the past year."

Police have implemented a "people-orientated, sustainable policing 
strategy" to eradicate the problem.

Jones said: "Although we are not at liberty to divulge the contents 
of our operational plans and strategies, we can proudly mention that 
policing zone directors have been positioned at ground level to 
implement this strategy and work in consultation with local 
communities and other roleplayers."

While dealers are always looking at ways or methods to "evade the 
judicial system", a common method was to use random "runners" to do 
their dirty work. "We have to adapt our methods all the time."

Petra du Preez of Sanca in Mossel Bay said a number of support groups 
had been set up to address the problem.

Jones said fighting drug related crimes were mostly 
intelligence-driven operations based on information from the 
community and other sources.

"Operations are also executed by an integrated approach between the 
various police units, other law enforcement agencies and community 
structures like neighbourhood watches."
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