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MORE than 1 600 people have been arrested on drug-related charges in the Western Cape in the past week, provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer has revealed.
Lamoer was speaking yesterday at the launch of Drug Watch, a Lead SA collaboration between the Cape Argus, 567 CapeTalk, 94.5Kfm and law enforcement agencies.
He vowed that police would clamp down on drug-related crime this festive season.
Lamoer said drug-related crime remained high on the police’s priority list and that since last Monday drugs to the value of R590 673.11 were confiscated and 1 625 people arrested on various charges across the province.
Lamoer related a story of how a boy from Grassy Park, who was addicted to tik, killed his mother before hiding her body in a cupboard.
The boy took the body out four days later and tried to stuff it into the dustbin for it to be removed with the trash. The boy was arrested last month and was behind bars.
Lamoer said law enforcement agencies would continue to do their work despite the negative publicity police were receiving.
“Where is the breakdown in relationships?” Lamoer asked in reference to the recent commission of inquiry into the breakdown in the relationship between the police and Khayelitsha residents.
Lamoer called on schools and churches to get involved to help fight the drug problem instead of pointing fingers at police. There would be roadblocks throughout the festive season.
A video shown at the launch included comments from a pediatrician, drug counsellor and a mother who’s son committed suicide as a result of drugs.
Ashley Potts, director at Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre, said about 70 percent of its patients were on tik, followed closely by heroin and dagga.
If 80 percent of all pregnant women in the Western Cape used tik, what would become of their children, he asked.
Venetia Orgil, a Cape Town mother who lost her son after he committed suicide, also spoke on the video explaining that her son was addicted to tik among other drugs.
Orgil said what was most hurtful was a day when her son asked her to have sex with him as that was the only thing that could help him cope with his addiction. Orgil’s son later committed suicide.
After the video was shown, Hanif Loonat, chairman of the Western Cape Community Policing Forum, said the community needed to help the police as they could not fight drug abuse on their own.
“The province is being held hostage by the scourge of drugs…I applaud the police and law enforcement agencies for closing the gaps and I am sure we can do more,” Loonat said.
He said drug dealers used vulnerable people to hide drugs for them and that the parents and community members needed to break the silence and report drug dens in their areas.
“The community must get involved. The police can’t fight this alone,” Loonat said.
Crime Line head, Yusuf Abramjee, said drugs was a “chemical warfare” eating into the moral fibre of society.
“We cannot keep quiet any longer,” Abramjee said.
He urged all South Africans to join the fight against drugs by reporting drug dens to the police or anonymously through Crime Line.
He said 82 percent of all the anonymous tip-offs received were drug related.
Abramjee said it was hoped to use the Western Cape as a pilot project for Drug Watch over the next three months.
Colleen Louw, station manager of Kfm and CapeTalk, said the radio stations had teamed up with the Cape Argus and law enforcement agencies to initiate Drug Watch because it wanted to reflect what was important to its listeners.
Louw said the radio stations constantly received calls from listeners asking for help to deal with drug addicts and most of them had nowhere to go.
“According to SAPS figures, an overwhelming majority of crimes in the Western Cape are related to substance abuse,” she said.
“Perpetrators of these crimes are either under the influence of substances, or trying to secure money for their next fix.
“The abuse of alcohol and drugs is a cause of grave concern and we are highlighting the great efforts of our law enforcement agencies who are aggressively tackling [it].”
Cape Argus executive editor Gasant Abarder said he was confident the initiative would make a dent in bringing down drug-related crime and commended law enforcement agencies for their work.