DURBAN: South Africa is under attack from traffickers moving highly addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine through the country.
This emerged during the Russia-Africa anti-drug dialogue, to discuss the scourge of drug proliferation, hosted at the ICC in Durban.
The conference, the second of its kind, attracted delegates and senior government officials from across the continent.
It comes as South Africa prepares to launch two specialised policing units, falling under the Hawks.
One will deal with narcotics and the other with the proliferation of firearms and other high priority crimes.
During the media briefing, Victor Ivanov, the director of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, said the anti-drug dialogue in South Africa was important, given the challenges faced by the country and the continent.
“You must also remember that South Africa is coming under attack from drugs such as heroin and cocaine,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.
A map presented earlier showing the drug networks showed two entry points, one coming from South America, entering through the south-west African region and moving up towards north Africa; and another entering South Africa on the eastern borders and moving up the continent.
Ivanov said Russia was also coming under pressure from the drug problem, and had recently intercepted more than three tons of Moroccan hashish.
The fact that the continent was a large transit route was damaging to Africa.
“It has been said before that no country can fight the scourge of drugs alone. I will take it further and say no continent can fight this problem alone, we need to collaborate and fight it,” said Ivanov.
The speakers said for Africa, apart from the routes, there had been an increase in other issues such as addiction, money laundering, human trafficking and an increase in piracy across the Atlantic ocean.
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, when asked about the proliferation of drugs in the country and whether any ports were a problem, said drug dealers varied their methods of distribution.
“The postal services are used, marine (the oceans) are used and even air traffic, and the methods change, so it is difficult to point to one area – but maybe it will be clearer as the discussions continue,” he said.
Nhleko said there were no time frames for the new units.
“The units were formed out of the complaints that we were getting from the communities. The community was saying they had these issues and hence the units are a response to those community engagements,” he said.
Both the Russian and South African delegations said they were likely to oppose proposals to legalise marijuana. The UN is hosting a drug conference later this year.
Nhleko said the government believed that any drugs that impacted on human development should be dealt with.