PMB police target Whoonga dealers

2015-06-12 11:04
Business owner Ameen Aniff (right) shows the head of Social Crime Prevention Unit Lieutenant Khosi Khonjelwayo (left) and police spokesperson Constable Mthoko Ngobese the dilapidated buildings on Hoosen Haffajee Street believed to be the hangout spot

Business owner Ameen Aniff (right) shows the head of Social Crime Prevention Unit Lieutenant Khosi Khonjelwayo (left) and police spokesperson Constable Mthoko Ngobese the dilapidated buildings on Hoosen Haffajee Street believed to be the hangout spot (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - Police have set up an undercover task team to track down major Whoonga drug kingpins in the city.

It has emerged that the use of the highly addictive and cheap drug is on the increase in Pietermaritzburg with its main users being street children and adults.

Police spokesperson Constable Mthoko Ngobese said different government departments are working in partnership with the police and NGOs to arrest dealers and reintegrate drug users back into communities and schools.

“A multi-disciplinary task team comprising the police, Msunduzi Municipality, Department of Social Development, Department of Community Safety and Liaison, religious groups and NGOs has been trying to infiltrate the Whoonga drug ring.

“We have an undercover team of police officers who are looking at arresting those behind dealing drugs,” said Ngobese. He said the task team are not designed to only make arrests but also assist in “cleaning up the capital city’s streets”.

“We want to help those who have been taking the drug. We don’t want to just arrest them for smoking it but also help them recover and return to school and their communities. We need to appreciate that we are the capital city and we need to set the tone for the rest of the province.”

Ngobese said the municipality is working with the police to deal with unused properties in the city.

“We are looking at either destroying the unused properties or renovating them into a shelter for these addicts who need rehabilitation,” said ­Ngobese.

The police have “already profiled street children, adults and drug users” and have handed the documents to the Department of Social Development and are “awaiting feedback”.

“The eMatsheni Beer Hall building belongs to the municipality and I know they are in the process of either renovating or destroying the building completely,” said Ngobese.

He said the Pietermaritzburg cluster, under instruction from the cluster commander’s office, have established a programme and have undercover police investigating the Whoonga dealing.

“We don’t want to catch the small boys. We want the big dealers who are bringing Whoonga into the city and dealing the drug.”

Ngobese said on a national level, hot spots for Whoonga dealing and usage have been identified and a national project was launched.

“There is a misconception that there are no convictions from these projects but at a national level there have been many convictions.” Ngobese also urged the Pietermaritzburg residents to assist police with information.

“People need to speak up and take control of their city,” he said.

The police task team, emanating from Operation Fiyela, were set up to “clean up all cities of social ills in the country”.

Pietermaritzburg cluster commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni instructed police to become “proactive” and not act “only when there is a serious crime committed”.

“The task team were set up to deal with the issue of street children and adults and unused buildings in the city. The use and sale of Whoonga was added to the mandate.

“After the recent xenophobic attacks, we didn’t want to sit with our arms folded. We want to address all issues contaminating our city before they escalate,” said Ngobese.

It is believed Whoonga is being supplied from the eMatsheni Beer Hall in Hoosen Haffajee (Berg) Street.

Last week, part of the Auto and General Supplies building in the same street caught alight after alleged Whoonga addicts gained access to the back of the building and lit a fire.

Manager of the paint and hardware store Ameen Aniff met with Ngobese and head of the Social Crime Prevention Unit Lieutenant Khosi Khonje­lwayo this week.

Aniff pointed out five neighbouring properties that were allegedly raided by thieves and homeless people in the last few months.

The dilapidated buildings are now used by Whoonga addicts to smoke drugs and sleep, he said.

“After shop owners were given notice and left the properties, vandals from the eMatsheni and the general public started climbing in and breaking and stealing materials from the buildings,” said Aniff.

The once well constructed buildings are now broken down. Windows, window frames, ceilings and wooden beams are just some of the structural materials stolen.

“I saw people coming in and removing iron sheeting from the back of the building. I couldn’t say anything because it is not my property. After they cleared what they could, they started jumping into mine and other businesses’ properties.

“They started by stealing my air conditioners and next they lit the fire that destroyed the back of our building,” said Aniff.

“They sleep in here and smoke their drugs then jump into my property. If you look at these people you can see they are not in the right state of mind. You can see they are drugged and have been drinking alcohol,” he added

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  narcotics  |  crime

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