Kensington Drug Treatment Centre Chief Director Dave McNamara. Foto WILLIAM McINTOSH

Quinton Mtyala

and Caryn Dolley

THE WESTERN Cape’s chief director for social welfare services, Dave McNamara, spoke out last night about his drug arrest last June in the city centre.

McNamara said he was not caught with drugs when police stopped him at the Caltex garage in Orange Street early on June 28.

He disputed that he was arrested at or near the notorious Senator Park building on Long Street, which was known as a drug den.

McNamara, whose job description includes targeting substance abuse and related problems, was arrested in possession of an empty tik straw and lolly.

“I’m not a drug user, I’ve never been a drug user,” said McNamara.

Yesterday he was placed on leave for seven days while the Department of Social Development goes ahead with plans to suspend him pending an investigation.

Last July, days after his arrest, he took a drug test at one of the provincial government’s drug laboratories and said the results were negative.

“I’m prepared to take another drug test. If you work in the field of substance abuse you should be tested at any time,” said McNamara.

He said he had not informed his employers about his arrest because he believed he was “in the right, I hadn’t done anything wrong”.

“It was probably an error of judgement but I’m prepared to live with the consequences.”

He said he had never used tik, and said the empty straw and the lolly did not belong to him.

McNamara will appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court in April. His lawyer, William Booth, indicated that he would plead not guilty.

News of McNamara’s arrest emerged this week when a local tabloid reported on it and Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said he had also been kept in the dark about it until a few days ago.

Despite Fritz finding out about it, McNamara had not been immediately suspended and had been allowed to work until Tuesday.

But yesterday Fritz announced that after seeking legal advice he had decided to place McNamara on leave for seven days.

“In line with labour legislation, he has been informed of the department’s intention to proceed with suspension and during this time he will have the opportunity to defend the allegations,” he said.

Fritz said a decision would be made by next week to suspend McNamara.

Asked yesterday how McNamara had kept news of his arrest under wraps for so long, Fritz replied: “I wish I knew how he did that.

“I only found out at the end of last week. It’s absolutely amazing.”

He said McNamara would face severe penalties if he was proved guilty.

The ANC called for the head of Fritz if he knew about McNamara’s arrest.

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