Drug crimes soar in Cape

Provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer

DRUG-related crime in theWestern Capeis the highest inSouth Africa, with police in the province seizing at least R600 million drugs in the past two months, says Provincial Commissioner Arno Lamoer 

This brought the total value of confiscations from last October to end of August to R8.5 billion, said Lamoer, who was commenting on the police’s announcement of the annual crime statistics. 

It showed that drug-related crimes soared in the province – from 60 409 in the 2009/2010 financial year, to 70 588 for the 2010/2011 financial year ending in March. This accounts for about two-thirds of the national increase. 

Lamoer said drugs and alcohol are major contributors to most contact crimes which had increased in theWestern Cape. 

Drug crimes in Nyanga had nearly quadrupled from 388 cases last year to 1 436 incidents. Gugulethu also experienced an increase from 813 to 1 136 cases this year. 

Police have also clamped down on entry points to the province, where large quantities of drugs have been found. 

Recently, heroin to the value of R6m was found in a suitcase on a long-haul bus. 

And two weeks ago, officers conducted a roadblock outside of Mossel Bay where they found a cooler box filled with 5 000 mandrax tablets, he said.  

Speaking about how the annual statistics affected the province’s crime-fighting plan, Lamoer said information was continuously analysed. 

Provincial Community Police Forum (CPF) board chairman Hanif Loonat said that the major concern was contact crime related to alcohol and drug abuse. 

One way to address this problem, said Loonat, was for Liquor Board and city officials to exercise tighter controls on operating hours of clubs, bars and shebeens. 

While sexual crimes – which include prostitution – have decreased from 9 678 incidents to 9 299, Loonat said rape had increased.

The province accounted for 24 percent of the country’s motorists caught driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, with 17 244 arrests. 

Transport MEC Robin Carlisle said this was partly due to the increase in drug use in the province, but mainly due to the vigorous clampdown on drunken drivers. 

The reasons the figure – second toGauteng’s 21 417 – has increased was because most traffic officers have the necessary equipment to test drivers suspected of being under the influence, said Carlisle. 

The province had the second highest incidence of child neglect and ill-treatment with 667 cases. These crimes were related to substance abuse and the high rate of teenage pregnancies, said Social Development MEC Albert Fritz. 

Meanwhile, the Medical Research Council’s Andreas Pluddemann said it was no surprise that more than a third of the country’s reported drug-related crime between April last year and March this year was in theWestern Cape. 

Pluddemann, a senior scientist with the council’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Unit, said research indicated most of these crimes were heroin- and tik-related. 

“Clearly there is still a lot of drugs available on the street. The drugs confiscated in major busts in theWestern Capeis only a fraction of what is still available out there. A lot of work remains to be done.” 

Michael Jacobs, chairman of the Mitchells Plain Community Police Cluster Board, said the crime statistics proved the police and neighbourhood watch groups’ efforts were paying off. He said the police were consistent in their approach and made major busts inMitchellsPlainthe past year. 

“However, the Justice Department and other organs of State have to come to the party,” Jacobs said. 

“The police can only throw so much resources at the problem, we need more support from the provincial government and the city.”

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