The world over, the face mask has become a symbol of safety and protection against Covid-19. But aside from being used as a way to prevent the spread of the virus, masks are now also being used to cover up more nefarious intentions – to carry and transport small amounts of drugs.
On Friday 9 October, Ocean View police uncovered something unexpected when they searched a suspicious-looking man on Milky Way outside Cherry Place in Ocean View.
“As we drove past the man, he began to fidget in his pocket. He wasn’t wearing a mask, so we asked him where it was. As he pulled out his blue and white surgical mask, one and a half Mandrax tablets fell out with it. When we searched further, we found four more tablets hidden in the folds of the mask,” said the station’s spokesperson, Sgt Leon Fortuin.
The 25-year-old suspect was then arrested and detained at Ocean View police station.
According to Fortuin, this is not the first such incident. Previously, a packet of tik was found concealed in a mask – the owner of which could not be found.
Ocean View is notorious for the number of drug dealers who live there and the number of drug-related transactions made there, daily.
In a promising turn of events, Ocean View police in recent months foiled several drug operations.
“Since Wednesday 1 July, our crime prevention unit has seen an increase in drug-related activity and has made more drug arrests than usual,” says Fortuin.
He adds: “Drugs have been a big problem in the area for a long time – the gangsters use the drugs as a source of income.
“The drug-activity is also directly related to shootings and gang-related activity in the area because each gang is fighting over territory where they can sell their stuff.
“It’s also a known fact that gangsters have guns and use the people on the ground to move their product.”
A concerning development, however, is the recent introduction of cocaine in the community.
Of his 15 years in the police, Fortuin has served the better part of it at the Ocean View station.
He says: “It’s a new drug in the area. We’ve made two arrests in the past two months for cocaine. We hope it won’t become a trend because it’s highly addictive and very expensive.”
Earlier this year, residents of Ocean View and neighbouring communities united to protest against gangsterism and the sale of drugs.
Accompanied by Patricia Francke, councillor for ward 61; and Simon Liell-Cock, councillor for ward 69; the crowd made their way to each of the residences of known drug merchants to issue a stern warning (“No peace in sight”, People’s Post, 3 March).