The coast’s dark world of drug abuse

MARGATE police have taken a strong stance against the town’s drug problems.

Margate Station Commander Colonel Sipho Thabethe recently sat down with his management team and Crime Intelligence officers to discuss the scourge.

Col Thabethe tasked Crime Prevention and Crime Intelligence officers to concentrate on combating drug abuse, and they wasted no time in carrying out this directive: on Monday this week police arrested a man in Conford Drive, Margate who was found to be in possession of ‘rock’.

Caught out: Quest for Justice caught this motorist stopping on Woodpecker Road in Margate to buy drugs from a dealer in broad daylight. (PLS block out reg plate)

Caught out: Quest for Justice caught this motorist stopping on Woodpecker Road in Margate to buy drugs from a dealer in broad daylight.

The harsh reality is that the coast’s towns are riddled with both drug peddlers and users. Margate has earned the reputation of being the coast’s ‘drug capital’ and home to a plethora of dealers – many of them foreigners – who employ ‘runners’ to do their dirty work.

Drugs are dealt on the premises of many a  local business, and the scary thing is that these deals are probably happening right in front of you.

It is also most alarming to note that male prostitution appears to be a new trend at the Port Shepstone beachfront. Prostitution and drugs seem to go hand-in-hand, and other areas notorious for sex workers are Manaba, Margate and Ramsgate.

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Male prostitutes are now seen wandering the beachfront of Port Shepstone beachfront.

The Herald met with the founder of Quest for Justice Community Project this week to chat frankly about what is happening on the South Coast.

Last year, the newspaper published articles on the work the organisation is doing in the community. Since then, and largely thanks to alert members of the public, Quest for Justice has received some valuable tip-offs resulting in a number of convictions.

No cares: A local car guard openly takes whoonga on Margate beachfront.

No cares: A local car guard openly takes whoonga on Margate beachfront.

Musa Mkhabela (30) was arrested for being in possession of 345 grams of dagga, valued at about R1 035 during a sting operation in the Southport area on November 24. Mkhabela, who is from central Africa, was recently sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for the drug offence and six months for being in the country illegally.

The Justice Community Project founder welcomed the sentence, saying, “Three and a half years for dagga sends out a clear message –  break the law and you will spend time behind bars.”

Another success last year was the arrest of a man at the Port Shepstone beachfront who was found to be in possession of 68 straws of heroin. This earned him two years’ jail time.

Quest for Justice works closely with specialised units and operates all over the country. The founder said that at the moment, methcathinone, heroin and ‘mushrooms’ are the most abused substances on the coast. Ecstasy is still the number one party drug of choice, with dagga being the ‘gateway drug’ to other addictions.

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Quest for Justice says that in Cape Town 10 of these cannabis oil injections were sold for R17 000 in promise that it cures lung cancer.

 

Here are some interesting facts about the coast’s drug scene:

* Margate and Port Shepstone beachfronts and businesses such as car washes, bottle stores, pubs and supermarkets are hot spots for dealing. Car guards and barmen are also often involved.

* A lot of drugs, such as mushrooms, are coming from Port Edward. Anyone with information is asked to come forward.

* An increasing number of  young white men appear to be finding the drug scene an easy way to make a buck or two.

* Those purchasing cannabis oil for medicinal purposes are warned to be careful from whom they purchase the oil, as it could be hazardous to their health.

*A particular designer drug to be on the lookout for is synthetic marijuana, often marketed as herbal incense or ‘herbal smoking blends’. Available at certain stores on the South Coast, the packets are sold for R60 under various brand names such as K2, Kush or Spice. It’s highly addictive and  its many side-effects can include psychotic episodes, paranoia, increased anxiety and hallucinations – much more severe than the effects of smoking marijuana. “Teens are dying from this stuff so parents should be aware of the dangers involved in smoking this,” the founder warned.

Be careful: A designer drug to be on the lookout for is often marketed as herbal incense or 'herbal smoking blend' and is usually consumed through smoking.

Be careful: A designer drug to be on the lookout for is synthetic marijuana which is often marketed as herbal incense or ‘herbal smoking blend’ and is usually consumed through smoking.

* Teens as young as 13 and 14 are known to spend their weekends in Margate nightclubs. The founder stressed that parents need to know where their children are, who their friends are, and to be suspicious of them receiving goods via a courier service, as drugs are now easily delivered by these services. “If you suspect your child is taking drugs – get them tested.”

Raine Massey, owner of Uber Test Pty in Pumula, said the majority of this company’s testing kits are sold to recovery centres. They are are also sold to pharmacies, corporates, schools, universities and concerned parents. She added she had sold 10 000 kits in the past six months alone.

Raine explained that these kits are used to test for illegal substances and some parents use them to deter their children from being tempted to dabble in drugs.

The most popular drugs of choice at the moment are methamphetamine (Tik), amphetamine (Cat) and cannabis.

Are drug test kit sales increasing? Raine answered in the affirmative, saying  ‘substance abuse is an epidemic’.  She added that as a parent, her biggest concern was how easily and openly accessible drugs were and how very young children, some aged only around 10, were being exposed to drugs.

If you have any information on drugs, illegal firearms, stolen goods or any other suspicious or criminal activities, you are encouraged to email Quest for Justice at 911quest4justice@gmail.com.

For more information on the drug testing kits, contact Raine at Raine@ubertest.co.za.

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Shona Aylward
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