Pubdate: Mon, 27 Jul 2015
Source: Cape Times (South Africa)
Copyright: 2015 Cape Times


IN ONE of several multimillion-rand drug busts in the country last 
week, a mandrax laboratory in the Ekurhuleni town of Nigel 
illustrates the magnitude of the drug problem we face.

Police, responding to an arson complaint at a disused church building 
on a smallholding, found the chemicals used to manufacture the drug. 
Three suspects were arrested and chemicals worth up to R30 million 
were confiscated.

It is a fact that drugs are a major driver of our soaring crime rate, 
particularly among the poor and unemployed.

Previous figures the police have published show that drug abuse 
accounts for 60 percent of all crimes.

According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, which 
among others provides counselling services to addicts, illegal drug 
use in South Africa is double the world norm.

Some of the widely available and abused drugs include heroin, dagga, 
methamphetamines and cocaine.

Another increasingly popular drug is nyaope - a highly addictive 
cocktail of marijuana, heroin, rat poison and other bizarre 
additives. This has become a drug of choice for young drug users 
because it's cheap and easily accessible.

South Africa, the largest illegal drug market in sub-Saharan Africa, 
is an attractive market for drug traffickers.

Widespread and severe poverty levels, rapid urbanisation, a decline 
of traditional and social relationships and porous borders are 
excellent conditions for this problem to fester.

Our expanding trade links with other parts of the world, such as 
Asia, Europe and the Americas, are a magnet to traffickers.

While authorities regularly catch drug smugglers at ports of entry, 
this capacity must be expanded. Internally, intelligence should be 
ramped up to make it tougher for criminal rings.

The community must also play its part in informing on suspects. To 
overcome this foe it must be all hands on deck. The state is 
currently probing the legalisation of "medicinal" dagga, at the 
request of the now late MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini.

Unable to continue taking the pain as a terminal lung cancer 
sufferer, he played Verdi's at dawn last August 16 in Hout Bay, took 
a gun and ended his suffering.

This must never be allowed to happen again.
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