Police battle deluge of drugs into Western Cape
Smugglers make hay as demand increases in holiday season
ILLEGAL cigarettes and drugs worth more than R2 million have been seized on the main roads into Cape Town this month, as the authorities clamp down on smugglers feeding the rising demand during the festive season.
The provincial traffic spokesman, Jacques Mostert, said that since January they had seized drugs and illegal goods worth R5m on the Western Cape’s highways, with activity being ramped up for the festive season.
Since December 1, traffic officials had seized illicit cigarettes worth R2.2m, as well as mandrax and khat with a street value of R86 500.
Mostert said 95 percent of the busts were from vehicles entering the province.
“Its hard to tell exactly where they are coming from, but the main routes they use are the N1, N2 and N7, although some try to move through farms or on dirt roads. Vredendal, in particular, has been the site of at least four busts over the past few weeks.”
He said that since January 2011, they had seized illegal goods worth more than R65m at the province’s borders.
“Our orders have always been to focus not only on the state of vehicles, but to also address the issue of drugs. Their transport comes in all shapes and forms, from simple cars to heavy duty trucks and even motorcycles. We will stop and check every vehicle that comes in and out of the Western Cape,” Mostert said.
The use of buses and taxis to transport drugs into the Western Cape had also been made a priority over the past few years.
Buses have also been used to traffic drugs from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town, while longdistance freighters have been used to transport drugs from Gauteng to the Western Cape.
Dagga worth more than R4m was found in two separate incidents just outside Laingsburg earlier this year.
Research by the Institute for Security Studies has confirmed the increased demand for drugs during December. Drugs, along with alcohol, also contribute to an increasing number of murders and serious assaults each December.
Robin Carlisle, MEC for Transport and Roadworks, said it was a major concern how the drugs were making their way into the province.
“If you look at the situation, these busts are being made by traffic officials whose main priority isn’t even drugs. One can only imagine how much makes it in without detection.”
He said he believed that most of the drugs were for local consumption, but warned that Cape Town could also be used as “an onward shipment point”.
Carlisle said drug smugglers “need their heads examined” if they believed the festive season was an ideal time to traffic drugs into the West- ern Cape. “They are taking huge chances because every vehicle is examined at least once on its way to Cape Town.”
DIRTY ROADS: Community Safety MEC Dan Plato and traffic officials bust a motorist transporting millions of rands worth of compressed dagga into the province during a roadblock.