Reply reveals KZN is a drug smuggling haven

Sizwe Mchunu, MPP

Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature / DA KZN Spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison

The Democratic Alliance will push for the urgent reinstatement of KZN’s specialist anti-drug units following a parliamentary reply which confirms that drugs to the value of R19 million were seized being smuggled into the province between April 2012 and April 2013.

The November 2013 response by provincial Community Safety MEC, Willies Mchunu, further reveals that the department is not able to accurately judge the true extent of the drug problem in the KZN with the MEC admitting it is “possibly more serious than currently thought, judging from the availability of drugs and the extent of areas involved”.

The response, which provides details around the location of the confiscations, the amount of drugs impounded and the number of arrests made, also states that Cocaine and Heroin are the most popular choice of drugs in KZN.

Smuggling of dagga, cocaine and mandrax into the province is rife with ‘hot spots’ listed as Kokstad/Matatiele, the Upper Tugela area and Himeville.  Dagga is allegedly brought into KZN from Swaziland, Mozambique, Lesotho and the Eastern Cape via taxi’s, busses, trucks, mules and horseback where it is then shipped to the UK, the Netherlands and Canada or transported to Durban.

In the north of the province, Mandrax is being brought in from Mozambique through the Golela border post where it is then distributed to either Gauteng or Durban.  Meanwhile, Cocaine is usually collected in Gauteng, where it is then given to drug mules, mostly young black females, who act as couriers and bring it to Durban often using bus transportation.

Despite a total of 95 arrests, only 41 resulted in imprisonment, with the majority of culprits getting away with an admission of guilt.

This is not the ‘zero tolerance’ message that needs to be sent out.

Research has shown time and again that the use of drugs is directly linked to violent crime.  And there is not a day that goes by without a report of a barbaric crime being committed in this province.  Drug abuse breaks down moral fibre and ruins lives – the lives of addicts themselves, their families and, most of all, the lives of those who have been subjected to such crimes and their loved ones.

The DA expects MEC Mchunu to reverse his inexplicable decision last year to close down the province’s specialist anti-drug units despite their outstanding track record.

We also expect the MEC and his department to improve their tracking systems when it comes to drugs crossing KZN’s borders and to ensure that culprits do not get away with a slap on the wrist.

The time has come for the department of Community Safety to make this fight priority number one.