Wentworth residents welcome war on drug lords

2013-01-25 00:00

WENTWORTH residents welcomed yesterday’s launch of a campaign to fight drugs and other social ills in their neighbourhood.

The campaign stems from Premier Zweli Mkhize’s Operation Sukuma Sakhe (Stand up and Build) and follows a similar initiative in Chatsworth that has resulted in the arrest of suspected drug lords.

According to police crime statistics, the Durban area recorded 525 drug-related crimes between April 2011 and March 2012. This was down from 610 recorded from April 2010 to March 2011.

At the launch, provincial government departments announced programmes designed to help Wentworth residents fight drugs, crime, teenage pregnancy, poverty and unemployment. The programmes entail crime-fighting, the establishment of a youth skills centre, a youth ambassador programme, promotion of school sports and registering local small businesses in the provincial government tender database.

Pensioner Lockenson Lochenberg (67) said they had waited a long time for such good news.

“This is wonderful. This happens after our voices have never been heard by the government,” he said.

Lochenberg, who has lived in Wentworth since 1970, said the area was tainted by gangsters and known drug lords. “We say thank you to the leaders who woke up and made sure it [the campaign against drugs] works and people understand it,” he said, adding that he hoped locals would work with the authorities.

Yvonne Bassier, chairperson of the community policing forum, said the initiative was “wonderful”.

“It’s like the time for talk-shop is over. We are going to see some action.”

Mkhize called on Wentworth residents to make a difference, regardless of their standing in society.

“We have come to recruit you in the fight against drugs and reinforce you if you have started,” he said.

Referring to Wentworth’s Janice Bronwyn Linden, who was executed in China in December 2011 on drug smuggling charges, Mkhize said it would be a shame if it happened again. “The damage [caused by drugs] to our kids and society has to stop at some point,” he said.

Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu said where there were drugs, there was crime.

“Drugs know no colour, race, sex. They just destroy and it is our nation that is being destroyed.”

Mchunu called on residents to put political differences aside and co-operate with authorities. “Crime looks at you and devours you regardless of your political affiliation,” he said.

“We will work with you on an ongoing basis. There is no stopping. To deal with crime, let’s come together.”

Provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni said police would ensure the initiative was a success. “We are going to ensure that drug lords are dealt with,” she said, asking the community to expose drug lords.

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