Businesses ‘don’t buy’ drug-linked crime stats

2017-11-08 06:01

THE latest statistics from the South African police may show a reduction in drug-related crimes in the city, but those living in the city centre believe this category has increased.

Residents there said they bore the brunt of the drug-related problems when the eMatsheni Beer Hall was shut down late last year.

The closure of eMatsheni resulted in a number of drug addicts and dealers filtering into the surrounding suburbs and other parts of the city centre, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake.

Some business owners, who closed their doors, blamed the recent scourge of drug addicts on their doorsteps for a loss in customers frequenting their shops. Residents in the lower CBD said that drug addicts were wandering around their neighbourhood which, according to them, caused a visible increase in crime and pollution in their area.

According to the latest police statistics released last Tuesday, drug-related crime had decreased across Pietermaritzburg except in Plessislaer. Pietermaritzburg police station in Jabu Ndlovu Street, recorded a reduction of 17,3% in drug-related crimes.

“I honestly cannot believe that because we have seen a significant increase. Almost everything bad that is happening in these areas­ is related to the whoonga addicts,” said a city business owner, Omar Kader.

Kader said it was possible that the more recent drug-related crimes were not captured in these statistics and would reflect more prominently in next year’s statistics.

The latest crime statistics captured data from April 2016 to March this year.

The Plessislaer area showed an increase of 6,3% in drug-related crimes, while areas such as Mountain Rise, Alexandra Road, Prestbury and Townhill showed significant decreases.

“It could also be that people are not reporting these crimes to the police.

This could very well mean that these statistics are not a true reflection of what is actually going on here,” Kader added.

Msunduzi spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said the municipality has had numerous engagements with affected business people regarding these challenges.

She said that the municipality was also in talks with the Office of the Premier concerning a proposal for a rehabilitation centre.

“The mayor Themba Njilo and MEC for Social Development Weziwe Thusi have met to discuss the department’s contribution and role in the matter. The department indicated that it can assist with the under 18s,” she said.

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