Zululand Observer - Weekender
CBD deaths and drugs are linked
The streets of the City of uMhlathuze have generally been spared the chaos, carnage, looting and destruction that have become the norm elsewhere owing to various protest actions.
Last Thursday was a glaring exception when a mob eager for revenge after one of their numbers had been stabbed to death during a robbery the previous evening, decided to exact their own form of justice.
They were adamant that the attack had been the work of ‘paras’, an abbreviated form of ‘parasites’ - drug addicts who frequent Taxi City and the CBD and live off their criminal earnings as they steal purses and cellphones from vulnerable commuters.
Women, the elderly and the unsuspecting are the targets and, as was seen in this instance, the criminals are not afraid to use violent means to get their hands on anything that can be converted to cash that in turn, can buy their next drug fix.
This has been happening for years, despite many raids performed by the police; hence the crowd that swelled on Thursday morning decided that ‘enough is enough’.
Not only did they brutally beat any person they felt was linked to the attacks on commuters, they also sought out the drug dealers who supply the ‘paras’ and woonga users.
The exact number of people who were attacked is not known, but two are confirmed dead, while a car belonging to someone they believed was involved in the drug trade, was set alight.
Matters should be clearly understood.
The first is that vigilantism is never acceptable. In that regard, police have already laid serious
charges of public violence, murder and assault.
It is a fact that many innocent people could be falsely accused and confronted as a mob mentality takes the place of clear thinking.
On the other hand, the frustration as a result of ongoing muggings in the CBD, and specifically at Taxi City, should be understood even though not condoned.
The perception is that the police are doing nothing, which is unfounded and unfair.
What is true, however, is that the drug situation is out of control in the city.
Drugs are sold openly on almost every corner; the drug dealers are well known – many teens will point you directly at one; drug dens fronted by B&Bs or businesses operate day and night; drugs are as easy to buy as ice cream.
About three years ago, this newspaper gathered information together with law enforcement agents and Business Against Crime, and uncovered almost 70 places, including private homes, from where drugs were being sold.
The matter was to be escalated provincially ahead of major raids… which never happened.
The recent (conditional) decriminalisation of dagga has not helped.
While the use of dagga by the likes of the paras might seem something to be ignored, they still have to steal to get the money to buy it.
But the reality is: it’s time to take on the big dealers.
However, the absence of a dedicated drug unit such as SANAB means this is unlikely to happen.