SA becoming an important transit, consumption point

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DURBAN is both a transit zone and final destination point for the global drug trade and if measures are not put in place cartel-type violence could take hold.

Drugs are entering the city through the port and roads with the metropolitan being favoured as a transit route because of its established infrastructure.

And South Africa is now playing a crucial role in what is known as the “Southern Route” in the heroin trade offering both its ports and air travel as methods of moving the highly addictive drug to Europe and the U.S.

UN International Narcotics Control Board president Dr Lochan Naidoo said South Africa is becoming an important transit and consumption market for drugs due to its high number of trade links with global markets and its geographical position.

“Sea and airports of the country could be targeted more and more by drug ­traffickers. In addition to this, consumption of deadly drugs like heroin is on the rise in South Africa,” said Naidoo.

But South Africa’s usage trends are shifting with more drugs remaining in the country than simply passing through according to the United Nations office on drugs and crime (UNODC) in their World Drug Report released yesterday.

The report said “expert perception” showed that there is “some increase in the use of heroin and methamphetamine and some decrease in the use of crack cocaine”.

“South Africa is also believed to be a major consumer market, deriving its heroin supply from South-West Asia via East Africa and the Near and Middle East. In Africa, aside from its increasing role as a transit area, the number of past-year users of opiates is estimated at between 0,92 million and 2,29 million. That broad range is a consequence of the paucity of data from African countries, which also extends to data from law enforcement authorities,” said the UNODC report.

The report also found that the prevalence of cocaine in South Africa rose from 0,78% of the general population in the 15 to 64 age bracket in 2008 to 1,02% in 2011, “confirming the continued existence of a sizeable and apparently expanding consumer market for cocaine”.

South Africa was also found to be the main export of illicit chemicals — used to manufacture illegal drugs — in Africa.

Naidoo said there was a concern globally with the rise in the drug trade and South Africa’s position as a drug transit location. “Organised crime has a habit of corrupting countries and if they feel a country is lucrative enough it is likely we will see a significant rise in drug related violence in our cities,” said Naidoo.

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