Cape Town -

Drug dealers and gangsters are using a relatively new and mobile method of transporting their contraband around Cape Flats communities – the humble scooter.

The Cape Argus joined mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith and the City of Cape Town’s Ghost Squad on Wednesday as they searched the streets of Manenberg for suspected couriers.

Smith said many of the scooters used to carry drugs and firearms were either stolen or unlicensed. This was why the city’s traffic services (Ghost Squad) were involved in the joint operation with metro police and law enforcement officers.

“These poegies (scooters) are an absolute menace. They are used as runners in these high-risk communities like Manenberg to transport things like drugs from the seller to buyer,” said Smith. “They are now in substantial quantities, but what we have found out is that many that are used by the gangsters are stolen, not roadworthy and sometimes the VIN numbers are filed off as well.”

While doing the rounds on Wednesday, officials confiscated two scooters that had false licence plates. One of the scooters, which was found at a scooter repair shop, had a licence plate that belonged to a different make of vehicle.

Smith said operations would be conducted in other high-risk areas as well, including Tafelsig, Elsies River, Beacon Valley and Athlone.

Smith also wants traffic officials to be more prominent in these areas, as it is only on major roads and highways and in central business areas where they are visible.

“These people who operate the scooters will stay in the confines of their neighbourhoods, because they know there is no type of authority watching over them… Once they go out on the main roads, then they know there is a risk of them being caught.”

Traffic officer Arthur Ripepi said the scooters were used not only to hide the drugs but also as a lookout.

“They normally hide (the drugs) underneath the seat or sometimes they have them on themselves. What gives us a real headache is that they use these people on scooters or motorcycles as spotters and tell each other when we are nearby.”

Although their main focus was on reckless driving on major roadways, Ripepi said working in areas like Manenberg was a unique experience.

“It is quite interesting, especially driving through the narrow side streets… and by visiting these places, you become accustomed to them.”

Cape Town traffic service spokeswoman Maxine Jordaan said residents in high-risk areas needed to know that their communities were serviced as well, and not just traffic hot spots.

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Cape Argus