The “chemical warfare” waged in the country by drug dealers should stop, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said on Tuesday.
“Can we mobilise South Africans across the country... can we make a call on people to identify the drug dealers,” he said in Joburg.
Manuel, who heads the National Planning Commission, said drugs were causing the destruction of families and of communities.
“What stands between many South Africans and a better life is the chemical warfare against our youngsters.”
Manuel was speaking at event to mark the fifth anniversary of the Crime Line anonymous tip-off service, run by the police and Talk Radio 702.
He said problems with drugs were not limited to their consumption and sale.
“It's about the destruction of families...theft in the street, theft in the neighbourhood.
“Nothing and nobody is allowed to have any possessions and everybody is caught in that downward spiral,” he said.
Drugs caused warfare against youths and gangsterism.
“We will fail unless we get to the root of it,” he continued.
He said people spoke of crime affecting potential foreign direct investment, but the effects were closer to home.
“The first targets of the petty gangsters in townships are those who have pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and have invested in a small medium or micro enterprise,” he said.
He recommended that to mark former president Nelson Mandela's birthday on July 18, people should disclose the names of drug dealers. The police could not be left to “fight the war” alone, he said.
Earlier, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega lamented the slaying of five police officers since she took office less than a month ago.
“One slain police officer is one too many.”
She said she spent time over the past weekend with a family in the Eastern Cape whose policeman son had been shot and killed while trying to make an arrest.
“It gave me a different picture of the seriousness the police are facing with police killings.”
She was convinced South Africans wanted to be part of the fight against crime and saw that communities were willing to help the police. Initiatives such as Crime Line, and the police's Crime Stop, were ways people could stop crime, she said.
Phiyega was appointed on June 12, after her predecessor Bheki Cele was “released” during a controversy over a lease for new police office space.
Earlier, Crime Line co-founder Yusuf Abramjee said: “We need more tip-offs in the community, we need more arrests.”
The system had contributed to the arrests of criminals wanted for crimes such as bombing ATMs, possessing illegal firearms and ammunition, and making illegal electricity connections. Escapee Bongani Moyo was apprehended as a result of an anonymous tip-off, he said.
At least 16 800 illegal connections and acts of meter tampering had been thwarted in co-operation with Eskom's “Operation Khanyisa” initiative.
Eighty percent of the tip-offs were drug-related, Abramjee said.
“We need to all unite further and fight the scourge because this evil of drugs is eating right through our community.” He appealed to Phiyega to reintroduce specialised units to clamp down on drugs.
Also present was Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. – Sapa