Cape Town becomes S Africa's drug capital
Updated: 2012-02-10 13:44
CAPE TOWN - With "an awful lot of drugs available," Cape Town has become "the drug capital of South Africa, " authorities said on Thursday.
The drug trade considered Cape Town "a very lucrative place to do business," said Dan Plato, the city's Community Safety MEC (Member of the Executive Council).
He made the remarks after police released figures which showed that drugs valued at almost 12 billion rand (about $1.6 billion) had been seized in the Western Cape since April 2010.
"We are far, far ahead of other cities in terms of drug crime stats. We're making a grave mistake by underestimating the drug problem in this city, because it's bigger than anyone thinks," Plato said.
"The wide range of anti-drug measures needed constant hard work and vigilance", he said.
"We need to continue to hit the drug cartels very hard. We can do much, much better. But we've had a recent glimpse into the underworld and at least we know they are now scared."
Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer told lawmakers on Wednesday that the drugs trade was contributing hugely to crime figures and that the Western Cape was seen as the province that used drugs the most.
"Every single day we confiscate drugs," Lamoer said, adding that drugs worth more than 50 million rand (about $6.5 million) had been confiscated from buses in one week in January when drug routes into the province were blocked.
"The violent crime and the gangsterism in the Western Cape are all linked to one thing – drugs. If we can stop the drugs, crime will come down radically, and people will be safe."
The Western Cape recorded a 1.6 percent increase in murders, from 2, 274 between April 2009 and March 2010, to 2,311 between April 2010 and March last year, according to the local newspaper Cape Argus.
For the same period, attempted murders rose by 26.7 percent, from 1, 707 to 2,162.