Pubdate: Tue, 05 Feb 2008
Source: Herald, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2008 The Herald.
Author: Janine Oelofse


WESTERN Cape police have assigned 10 additional police  vehicles and 
several more officers to Bitou to help  fight the scourge of drug 
abuse in the area.

The endorsement came from Western Cape police  commissioner Mzwandile 
Petros after a plea from members  of Bitou's anti-drug campaign, Save 
Our Selves (SOS).

Following a presentation, the commissioner acknowledged  the need for 
more police officials in the area and said  he was willing to act quickly.

Petros said extra police personnel would be sent to  Bitou to drive 
the vehicles. However, there was a  shortage of housing in 
Plettenberg Bay for these  officers, which would take some time to 
sort out. He would not give details on time frames or how 
many  officers would be deployed.

SOS spokesman Christene Mason confirmed the housing  delay, saying 
the organisation was addressing the  issue. She said Petros had 
become a patron of the  project and told them he hoped it would 
develop into a model for other Western Cape towns.

In addition, a police television crew filmed various  aspects of the 
SOS project and interviewed key role-  players for a documentary to 
be screened on Police  File.

Mason said SOS was busy with a feasibility study for  the 
establishment of a youth information and  counselling centre and a 
pilot programme involving  family dynamics would be launched within 
the next few  months.

The police said the SOS initiative, which was launched  six months 
ago, had shown successes over the last  festive season and annual 
matric rage festival. There  had been fewer than 20 drug and alcohol 
arrests in the  town, compared with 50 in 2006. Eleven people had 
died in car accidents and drownings involving alcohol in  2006, but 
last year there had been no deaths. The  project was initially set up 
in conjunction with the  Plettenberg Bay community policing forum in 
the hopes  of locking the town down against drug and alcohol  abuse.

The pro-active project, a first for the Garden Route,  focuses on 
both preventative and curative measures and  involves all 
role-players, from the police and church  to parents, teachers and children.

In November, British millionaire businessman Richard  Branson said he 
would be willing to subsidise a  rehabilitation centre subject to the 
submission of a  business plan and projection of cash flow.

Mason said the project had also introduced a 24-hour  082-SOS HELP 
(082-767 4357) number for people to report  alcohol and drug-related 
incidents and abuse, and for  people to call if they needed help. 
There is also a  website,
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