Heroin is on the rise in SA.
You know, the drug that you might have heard something about – jippy tummy, rampant addiction, probable overdose.
That’s the one.
The market, which is widespread and lucrative, is being facilitated by gangs, organised crime and incompetent or corrupt police, reports News24.
A report by ENACT, an organisation funded by the European Union which builds knowledge and skills to enhance Africa’s response to transnational organised crime, has alerted the government to the growing problem.
According to its statement, the rapid emergence of the thriving industry has gone largely undetected by police and government, despite more than 100 000 users. It’s estimated that annual turnover may be worth billions of rands. The problem is made worse by poor drug policy and neglect of marginalised communities.
Simone Haysom, the author of the report says that “South Africa’s heroin crisis is extremely serious and is taking a heavy toll on communities”.
ENACT researchers found widespread and problematic heroin use in South Africa’s small towns, big cities and rural areas. The impact is felt by local authorities who are underprepared to provide effective responses.
…The cash-based and criminalised heroin economy has had a severe corrupting effect on police, who have interdependent relationships with gangs, drug dealers and users. In Cape Town, dealers in gang-controlled neighbourhoods say patrol vans visit their selling points for small cash bribes. Interviewees in Tshwane spoke of corrupt junior police officers confiscating drugs and selling them to other dealers.
And we thought that time a policeman used state resources to chauffeur kids to a matric dance was bad.
South Africa’s heroin economy is a spinoff from the growing international drug smuggling routedown the east coast of Africa for shipment to international markets. Tanzanian criminal networks have been developing the South African heroin market and supplying gangs who sell the drug to users. “Heroin is today a key commodity underpinning the criminal economy in South Africa,” Haysom says.
Despite commitments to dealing with the drug crisis in South Africa, government strategy is not based on evidence or international best practice.
Opiate substitution therapy, provision of less harmful heroin substitutes like methadone, and needle and syringe exchange programmes, are successful internationally, but only Tshwane currently has both these programmes.
ENACT says a regional political response is needed to address corruption that facilitates the heroin transit route through neighbouring countries. Police and other government agencies should develop an evidence-based analysis of the heroin economy and its impact on users, communities and crime. Police investigations should focus on facilitators of the trade, and traffickers that reap the profits.
At least that Pretoria steroid lab was shut down.
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