Drug abuse havoc
THE HAVOC wreaked by drug abuse and the massive criminal enterprises that drive it is a scourge which we will not soon be rid of. As we report today, the use of hard drugs like tik, heroin and Mandrax contin- ues to grow, and a new drug, dubbed “whoonga” – a concoction which can include antiretroviral medication, tik, heroin and even rat poison – is gaining a foothold in South Africa.
Nearly half of South Africa’s reported drug-related crime between April last year and March was in the Western Cape, according to the police’s annu- al crime statistics report.
Some 134 840 incidents were recorded nationally; of those 60 409 were in the Western Cape – an in- crease of 14.5 percent over last year’s figures for the region. The number is also 200 percent higher than in the comparable period to March 2004.
This year’s figures revealed that the province’s rate of drug-related crimes, at 1 127 per 100 000 people, is more than four times the national average of 273.
The increased figures, police and experts say, are testimony to the fact that police are making head- way in this battle, though they might also be explained by there being more drugs in circulation thanks to poor border controls.
The Western Cape continues to face a major challenge in combating the deadly effects of drug abuse. This scourge is not limited to the poorer parts of our city; while the residents of the Cape Flats may be worst affected, our reports today show that the drug trade is as active in the suburbs and the CBD.
But more than statistics and reports are required to tackle this epidemic, which has its roots in the greater socio-economic problems facing our country: poverty, poor education and unemployment.
And there are insufficient treatment facilities in the province to adequately deal with the number of addicts.
As commendable as the police’s achievements may be, more needs to be done. As critical as it is to clear the streets of drug peddlers and users, the focus must surely be on decapitating the head of the monster – the manufacturers and importers and wholesale distributors of these drugs and their ingredients. Only then will we start to win this war which will continue to destroy the soul of our city, and our country.