47% of known drug houses in rural areas of Western Cape
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Cape Town – Pressure will be put on Western Cape police commissioner Major-General Thembisile Patekile to implement more stringent measures to clamp down on the sprouting of known drug houses to rural areas in the province.
This comes after a reply to a DA-written parliamentary question revealed that by mid-2021, 47% of known drug houses are found in the rural areas of the Western Cape, which equates to a total of 741 premises. The Cape Town Metro (53%) is also a lucrative environment for drug-related crimes due to the population density.
Reagen Allen, the DA spokesperson on community safety, said: ’’The prevalence of these premises disintegrates social and economic cohesion in communities, it presents the involvement of illicit drug trade as an viable economic avenue whilst this leads to the perpetuation of gang related crimes such as murder and destruction instead.’’
A ’’known drug house’’ refers to a premises that is allegedly used to distribute drugs and is known in a community at large and to the local SAPS. This year, SAPS confirmed that 1 577 known drug houses have been identified in the province – roughly the same number of schools in the Western Cape.
According to criminologist Dr Guy Lamb, the policing of drugs has been less of a priority in recent years because SAPS has been focusing on more violent crimes.
’’The latest crime statics showed that increased efforts led to a 137% increase in Crime Detected as a Result of Police Action, which indeed indicates greater action from SAPS in the Western Cape, in partnership with the City and province’s supplementary safety resources.
’’This is especially notable when it comes to the confiscation of illegal firearms or the detection of drug related crimes. However, clamping down on these illegalities is highly dependent on ongoing intelligence-driven operations from the police service, as even just one drug house is one too many.
’’The Provincial Minister for Community Safety submitted to Minister Cele just last week the Western Cape Policing Needs and Priorities Report for 2020/21. This accurately identifies that drug trade, abuse and related crimes have been consistent since 2013/4 here in the province.
’’I will write to the Provincial Police Commissioner and enquire what measures the South African Police Service is undertaking to prevent and clamp down on the sprawling of known drug houses to rural areas in particular.
’’Sections 252(A) of the Criminal Procedure Act sets out a policing process to uncover such operations along with the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators in terms of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act.
’’The parliamentary reply further indicates during this process a premises may also be forfeited to the state in order to help curb organised crime. We need to know how this process is being carried out in the Western Cape and what success, if any, is achieved at this stage.
’’As the DA in the Western Cape, we will through our oversight powers at provincial parliament ensure that the matter receives ongoing attention and intervention.’’
Provincial community policing forum board chairperson Fransina Lukas told the Cape Argus SAPS has been facing a mammoth task and it was not an easy task when there was a lack of cooperation from communities.
She said the police did record successes, however, it was short-lived because soon after a raid by the police, the illegal activities continue.