Res­i­dents cry foul over po­lice role in drugs war

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - WARDA MEYER

BEL­HAR res­i­dents say they are fight­ing a fruit­less war against the drug trade in their Cape Flats com­mu­nity.

Vol­un­tary com­mu­nity work­ers say youths with lit­tle in the way of func­tion­ing fam­i­lies are caught in a web of drugs, crime and poverty.

“Those not strong enough end up deal­ing on the cor­ners, and with­out a lov­ing fam­ily to help them along the right path they in­evitably be­come vic­tims of drugs,” said a concerned high school teacher.

Res­i­dents be­lieve the po­lice are in ca­hoots with drug deal­ers, al­low­ing the drug trade to boom in the sub­urb. They claim some po­lice of­fi­cers are ei­ther on drugs them­selves, or they are tip­ping off their mer­chant bud­dies ahead of planned raids.

Com­mu­nity work­ers claim the drug sit­u­a­tion is out of con­trol in Bel­har be­cause po­lice do not act fast enough on in­for­ma­tion re­ceived from the com­mu­nity.

“We all know where the tik houses are, we know where the deal­ers stay but, when it comes to raids, the deal­ers know ex­actly when po­lice are go­ing to strike,” said a res­i­dent.

Com­mu­nity vol­un­tary worker Lindy Adri­aanse said drug abuse was “out of con­trol” in the area, and a large num­ber of school chil­dren were abus­ing drugs.

“These chil­dren start smok­ing dagga from as young as seven and by the time they turn nine they are mov­ing on to big­ger things. Most are do­ing what they see their own par­ents do. They have no role mod­els and lit­tle su­per­vi­sion.”

She said tik (metham­pheta- mine), Man­drax, rocks (crack co­caine) and dagga were still pop­u­lar among the area’s youth.

In Bel­har the hope of re­cov­ery is slim but some com­mu­nity lead- ers like Adri­aanse are try­ing to do their bit to help, and re­fer some of the ad­dicts to rehabilitation.

Ja­cob Jaftha, of the Bel­har Trauma and Vic­tim Sup­port Cen­tre, said they sent an av­er­age of 40 peo­ple a month to rehabilitation. “We re­fer be­tween 15 and 18 school­child­ren ev­ery month and about 20 to 25 adults for rehabilitation to fa­cil­i­ties in Vre­den­burg, Eer­ste River, Kens­ing­ton and Mait­land.”

Jaftha said while the sit­u­a­tion was dire, it was heart­en­ing to know peo­ple were seek­ing help.

Adri­aanse said drugs led to crime. “The com­mu­nity is not cop­ing with the glut of dru­gre­lated crimes and re­peat of­fend­ers are driven by ad­dic­tion. These chil­dren start com­mit­ting petty crimes and bur­glar­ies to feed their drug ad­dic­tion.”

Drug coun­sel­lor Fagh­meeda Ameero­dien said peo­ple who lived next door to drug houses were fright­ened of the mer­chants. Even­tu­ally the deal­ers be­came part of the com­mu­nity.

“Liv­ing next to a dealer brings with it a lot of un­easi­ness and fear. Par­ents worry if it is go­ing to be their child who will be caught next.”

She said there was a lack of proper sup­port struc­tures for vic­tims and in­ad­e­quate polic­ing.

The vice-chair­man of the Bel­har Com­mu­nity Po­lice Fo­rum, Pa­trick Amer­ica, said in many cases youths bunked school and spent their days in drug houses and il­le­gal she­beens.

About three months ago, 60 youths from dif­fer­ent lo­cal schools were seen roam­ing the area dur­ing school hours, caus­ing chaos. They were un­ruly, threat­en­ing peo­ple with knives and steal­ing from peo­ple.

“These kids ended up stab­bing two com­mu­nity mem­bers who were re­turn­ing from the shops. Polic­ing fo­rum mem­bers con­fis­cated a slow boat – a large dagga joint – al­co­hol, 14 knives and a panga from the youths. Fif­teen were ar­rested.”

Amer­ica said the com­mu­nity was very concerned about the polic­ing of drugs in the area. How­ever their new op­er­a­tional head was mak­ing strides to­wards rid­ding the po­lice of bad ap­ples.

warda.meyer@inl.co.za

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