Lethiwe Makhanya
3 minute read
5 Aug 2022

Crackdown on Pietermaritzburg drug dealers

Lethiwe Makhanya

Three people, including two women, were arrested in the CBD for dealing in drugs and contravening the Medicines Control Act.

A file image of a man using drugs.

Some R300 000 worth of hard drugs have been removed from the streets of Pietermaritzburg following a swoop by police and security companies on alleged dealers.

On Wednesday night three people, including two women, were arrested in the CBD for dealing in drugs and contravening the Medicines Control Act.

The suspects were arrested during an operation driven by police crime intelligence working together with Pietermaritzburg K9 B Relief, Crime Intelligence, PMB Secure responders, AET Security and PAC Security. Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Sergeant Sifiso Gwala said the three suspects were arrested in two separate incidents.

He said in the first incident, on James Street, two suspects, a 40-year-old man and his 20-year-old girlfriend were arrested for contravening the Medicines Control Act. “They were illegally selling cough syrup with codeine and Xanax tablets known as Alzams. They were operating as a shop and police had been observing their moves.

All the drugs were seized and their street value is estimated at R200 000. It has also been established that the male suspect has been previously arrested for the same offence

Gwala said in the second incident a 30-year-old woman was arrested for dealing in drugs and being in possession of Cat drug, with an estimated street value of about R100 000. Ward 27 councillor Daniel Dante Kemp said he is aware of the various drugs and pharmaceutical prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs that have engulfed our communities and he is in full support of the arrests that were made.

He said this should be a warning to all those dealing in and distributing illegal substances that the police and the community are taking action, in cleaning the streets, homes and communities of these social ills.

“The use of these drugs and concoctions is extremely endemic in our communities. The increase in crime is due to the users needing to continue their addiction, resulting in petty crimes. even to the extent where fatalities have occurred.

ALSO READ | Drugs valued at R400 000 found in Durban

“This is endemic not only to the homeless who rely on it to survive, but we have working class folks also engaging in these drugs. I have noted in ward 27 areas of concern that the CPF and police station are fully aware of, hence the arrests that were conducted,” he said.

Kemp said there has been an increase in the usage of these drugs among the youth, high school pupils and students, as there are areas around the taxi ranks and Freedom Square where there are pharmaceutical bottles littered all over the place.

There are various reasons as to why communities are continuing to support this drug trade, and the increase in the middle to upper classes in using them is concerning, especially the children

He said as their way of trying to fight this problem there are various programmes that are available to community members who would like to get off these addictive drugs. The Witness has previously reported on the popularity of the use of Xanax pills and cough mixtures which are now used as drugs.

Xanax pill users previously told The Witness that they get it for as little as R2,50 per pill and it is easy to find. To get the pill legally, you need a doctor’s prescription, the same as for a cough mixture which contains codeine. These cough mixtures are usually mixed with cold drinks.

Xanax/Alprazolam is a pill used to treat the panic and anxiety symptoms associated with panic disorder. It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, which act on the brain and nerves (central nervous system) to produce a calming effect. It works by enhancing the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body.

· Methcathinone is an illicit drug also known on the street as “cat” or “ephedrine.” This illicit drug is a methyl derivative of cathinone.