Po­lice bat­tle del­uge of drugs into Western Cape

Smug­glers make hay as de­mand in­creases in hol­i­day sea­son

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

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.”

kowthar.solomons@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: SUP­PLIED

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.

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