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Mon May 30 16:33:59 CAT 2016

KwaMashu drug deaths indicate urgency of implementing Narcotics Enforcement Bureau

TMG Digital | 27 March, 2016 12:36
A user smokes crystal meth. File photo.
Image by: Esa Alexander

The Democratic Alliance has reiterated its call for Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to hasten the roll-out of Narcotics Enforcement Bureau units in priority clusters to crack down on illicit drug trafficking‚ following the tragic drug-related deaths of at least four young people in KwaMashu‚ Durban‚ in KwaZulu-Natal during the past week.

DA spokesman on police matters Zakhele Mbhele said that after President Jacob Zuma announced that these specialised anti-drug units would be established‚ he had written to Nhleko requesting information on the detailed implementation plan for the Narcotics Enforcement Bureau but that to date there had been no response.

“This should not be a difficult task. The South African Police Service should start by reconvening what is left of the personnel who constituted the specialised anti-drug units that were disastrously disbanded by former National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi in 2006.

“The next step must be to identify priority clusters where the initial reconstituted units would begin their focused investigations and intelligence-led policing operations‚” Mbhele said.

He added that the 2014/15 crime statistics already provided an evidence-based guideline which would indicate that KwaMashu should be a priority surveillance area because it lay between the two KwaZulu-Natal police precincts that registered the highest number of drug-related crimes in the province - Durban Central and Phoenix.

“The setting up of a task team to address the emerging crisis‚ as has been reported‚ is not adequate to ensure a long-term‚ sustainable solution. The ‘task team’ approach has been the default modus operandi of the SAPS to deal with syndicate crime since specialised units were disbanded‚ from vehicle hijacking to gang violence‚ but its impact has always been short-lived and failed to stop year-on-year increases in drug-related crime and aggravated robberies‚” Mbhele said.

“The DA expresses its condolences to the families of the four young people whose lives were prematurely cut short by toxic drugs that ravage too many communities and sympathises with the 36 others who were critically affected after ingesting the so-called ‘Mercedes’ concoction. This tragic turn of events should spur the Police Minister and top brass to hasten the implementation of the specialised anti-drug units in order to minimise more innocent deaths in future‚” Mbhele added.

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