PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Alexander Dowding
 
Comments: 20
Article views: 692
 
 
Latest Badges:


 
View all Alexander Dowding's badges.
 

Is SA hopelessly addicted to its War on Drugs?

29 June 2014, 12:16

It has been about a year since the last time I addressed the issue of South Africa's War on Drugs.

It is with some sadness and a large dose of frustration, but certainly not much surprise, that I can report that the situation has only got worse during that time.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released its 2014 World Drug Report, which has some valuable bits of information to offer for assessing the successes and failures of global efforts to stem the tide of substance abuse and drug addiction.

There is ever growing international consensus that the heavy handed approach towards drug use and abuse favoured by many countries across the globe has achieved precious few of the aims that it was designed to. This is especially evident when you understand that the international trade in illicit substances is currently estimated to be valued at $320 billion while less than one third of this figure is committed towards fighting the War on Drugs. Law enforcement is clearly out financed and outgunned. Even the staunchly prohibitionist founder of SA's Crime Line, Mr Yusuf Abramjee admitted that our country is failing in the War On Drugs in an article he penned for the Eyewitness News website. In spite of this realisation he appears to maintain his view that the best way forward is to double down on law enforcement initiatives aimed at disrupting the illicit manufacture and intercepting supply of these substances.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega commenting on the record heroin bust near Durban a few days ago said "This success may be the largest this country has ever seen, but it is not the first of its kind and I do not think it will be the last." She was of course stating the obvious. I think that many within the South African public are suffering from an illusion that the police and government are on top of the drug situation. We read, on an almost daily basis, about busts being made in every corner of the country, but no one ever makes a mention of all of the drugs that are in circulation that the authorities do not intercept. This then has the effect that it gives us a false impression where it actually looks like we are winning, but we are not winning. The drugs are winning, every single day!

A senior drug rehabilitation official from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates recently explained that only around 10% of all drugs smuggled into any country are seized by law enforcement officials.

Does the answer to this problem really lie in throwing thousands more people in jail? If recent reports in the media are to be believed our penal system is already nearing breaking point. With stories of contraband including cell phones, weapons and drugs being commonplace in these supposedly secure institutions it does leave one with the impression that the inmates have the upper hand over those who are supposed to be in charge of them. What too of the phenomenal costs to the taxpayer of convicting, housing and feeding all of these people? When do we reach a point when we say "enough is enough, what we are doing clearly isn't working, what can we try that we haven't already?" 

So who or what exactly is to blame for the yearly increases in people choosing to use illicit substances in our country?

Is it perhaps the message that our government is sending out to our youth with regards drug education? Could it be the sustained focus on punitive measures and criminal sanctions over education and harm reduction strategies? Are parents fulfilling their duty adequately in helping to inform the new generation about the world of drugs?

I have noticed a tendency among many South Africans to lay the blame for the increased occurrence and flow of drugs in the country on foreigners like Nigerians and the Chinese. Perhaps these foreign lawbreakers are drawn to South Africa by the ever-growing local demand for these substances? There can be no doubting of this country's reputation as a major regional hub for the trafficking of narcotics both on a local and international level. Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini recently cited reports showing that our country is one of the world's top four sources of cannabis (dagga). Major General Jeremy Vearey, Mitchell’s Plain cluster commander, has made mention of the fact that he refuses to permit police to conduct searches of pupils at schools, because he believes that they fail to address the underlying socio-economic problems rooted in many households of which drug possession and use are but a symptom. These are all aspects that need to be scrutinised carefully and if need be changed and modernised if we ever want to see a meaningful decline in both substance abuse and drug addiction.

Then there is the potential for corruption. When it comes to drugs everyone knows there are plenty of bucks to be made. Dr David Bayever, the deputy chairperson of the Central Drug Authority has said that we still have to root out all those people within the system that are unfortunately being bribed by the communities. He believes that many of our politicians prefer to ignore an illegal industry that lines many pockets, including their own.

One thing appears, to me at least, to be without doubt and that is that whether designated legal or illegal, people will continue to take drugs. Surely being cognizant of this and accommodating it, while ensuring harm is kept to a minimum through both the provision of scientifically sound, open and honest information about these substances and coupled with adequate state regulation, is the best possible long term and humane policy that we could hope for? Doctors NOT criminals should be in charge of dispensing hard drugs like heroin to addicts. There are many sensible policies like this that we would be able to introduce IF our government took responsibility for its role in providing oversight for the use of these substances instead of forcing users into the black market.

While we can all agree that the use of these illicit substances does carry risks it must also be made clear that keeping drugs illegal instead of choosing to regulate them exacerbates these risks.

I live in hope that one day sooner rather than later South Africa's politicians will decide to change tack and treat drug use/abuse as a health issue instead of a criminal justice issue.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
20 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Julian Jackson
Why value investors have been und...

Value investing has been a solid philosophy and history has shown that it works better than most other investment philosophies.  Read more...

1 comments 170 views
Submitted by
Luke Folb
Springbok World Cup Squad

The Springboks have shown great failure this season in closing out games and showing cool heads in the final third of the game. Read more...

2 comments 304 views
Submitted by
Zethembe Mseleku
The three-legged “threat” for you...

The notion of “youth development” has become the central theme in development agenda both locally, nationally and internationally.  Read more...

2 comments 195 views
Submitted by
Hennie Potgieter
Who/What created Satan?

I must confess to being intrigued by the stances from both theistic and atheistic perspectives as being placed on this forum. Read more...

43 comments 665 views
Submitted by
Kalibanache
Double trouble , Toil & trouble ....

What else comes to mind when watching Carte Blanche and seeing our faithful Zama Zama's at work .. Who will ever invest one red cent into this country of ours?  Read more...

36 comments 1707 views
Submitted by
Gail Shorkend
Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung. The public pools will open tomorrow. Then it will be officially spring.  Read more...

11 comments 293 views
 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2015 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.