Pubdate: Thu, 10 Mar 2016
Source: Times, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2016 AVUSA, Inc.
Author: Matthew Savides


Africa Has Become Vital Transit Hub for Narcotics

THE government is to urgently re-establish narcotics and firearm 
units to fight cocaine and heroin drug cartels using South Africa as 
a transit hub, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said yesterday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the second Africa-Russia Anti-Drug 
Dialogue in Durban, Nhleko said although there was no concrete 
timeline yet in place for the units to be up and running, the SA 
Police Service and his ministry were working on having this done as 
soon as possible.

"There is a level of urgency. This issue of specialised units dealing 
with drugs and firearms . . . has been a burning issue.

"In every outreach programme we are involved in, these are the issues 
that come up," he said.

President Jacob Zuma mentioned the re-establishment of the units in 
his State of the Nation speech last month.

He said: "As part of the 'back to basics' strategy, the ministry of 
police will establish special units to deal with drugs and related 
transnational crimes as well as violence and the proliferation of 
firearms in our society.

"The two units are the SA Narcotics Enforcement Bureau and the 
National Bureau for Illegal Firearms Control and Priority Violent Crime."

Asked if the units would through Africa into Europe.

Victor Ivanov, director of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, 
told the delegates South Africa - and Africa in general - had become 
a vital transit hub for cocaine and heroin.

He illustrated how cocaine came from Latin America into West Africa, 
and Afghan heroin through the East Coast of Africa. The drugs then 
went north through the continent.

"The over $4-trillion [about R61-trillion] proceeds of this drug 
trade feed international crime networks," he said.

This, in turn, resulted in an "increase in violence in transit 
countries. We must elevate drug status to levels of terrorism and piracy".

"South Africa is under attack from both sides - cocaine on the west 
and heroin on the east."

Officials were reluctant to name the South African entry points for 
drugs but Ivanov and Nhleko insisted not just sea ports were being 
used by traffickers. Trains, rail and road networks were also being used.
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