Substance abuse is an enormous social problem in South Africa, as elsewhere, and it’s increasing every day. Alcohol, marijuana (dagga), cocaine, tik and heroin are some of the most frequently used substances on our streets, according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG).
The relationship between drugs and crime is complex, and one question is whether drug use leads people to criminal activity or whether those who use drugs are already predisposed to such activity. Many illegal drug users commit no other kinds of crimes, and many persons who commit crimes never use illegal drugs. However, at the most intense levels of drug use, drugs and crime are directly and highly correlated. It is also no secret that serious drug use can amplify and perpetuate pre-existing criminal activity.
There are essentially three types of crimes related to drugs:
1. Use-related crime: These are crimes that result from or involve individuals who ingest drugs, and who commit crimes as a result of the effect the drug has on their thought processes and behaviour.
2. Economic-related crime: These are crimes where an individual commits a crime in order to fund a drug habit. These include theft and prostitution.
3. System-related crime: These are crimes that result from the structure of the drug system. They include production, manufacture, transportation, and sale of drugs, as well as violence related to the production or sale of drugs.
The correlation is clear: The higher the access to drugs, the higher the crime rate in our area. It is a known fact that those with a drug use dependency are more likely to depend on crimes such as burglary, mugging or shop theft. Essentially, the drug problem will encourage more property break-ins and can, unfortunately, lead to more life-threatening events like violent crime. We are unfortunately seeing more and more of this every day.
Our Secure Rite team is under no illusion to the seriousness of the drug problem on the streets of Helderberg. “This has fuelled our proactive approach to addressing the problem on the streets,” says Craig Austen, CEO of Secure Rite.
A recent interview with a Secure Rite officer revealed the following about drugs on our streets:
– Secure Rite officers come across drugs on a daily basis through arrests or pursuit of criminals.
– Dagga, tik, mandrax, cocaine, ecstasy, heroine and unga are the most common drugs found lately.
– Drugs can be found anywhere from schools, beach fronts, parks, malls and public toilets.
– Drug users are sadly becoming younger and younger, from as young as 14.
– Drug sellers can range from as young as 11 years.
Our Secure Rite foot soldiers spend their days observing drug hotspots and supporting SAPS in making arrests. Although there is no ‘magic wand’ to assist us in eradicating the drugs completely, it is up to us, the community, to minimise the spread and access to these substances as far as possible. Drugs are OUR problem.
This may be shocking but has unfortunately become a reality we all face daily. If you or anyone you know has observed anything related to the production, sale or supply of illegal drugs in the Helderberg basin, please report such activity to 0860103099. Your identity will remain anonymous.