Drug Watch launched in Gauteng

Lead SA & Crime Line in partnership with the police launch intitiative to stamp out drugs.

Police search a man's shoe for drugs, during a police operation in Westbury, Johannesburg, on 26 June 2013. Picture: Michelle Lubbe/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - An initiative aimed at rooting out the source of drugs in Gauteng communities, Drug Watch, was launched in the province on Wednesday morning.

Speaking to Redi Tlhabi, Yusuf Abramjee, Head of Crime Line and activist for Lead SA, said the initiative is the result of a number of groups coming together to create awareness and help solve the drug scourge in the province.

He said Drug Watch is a partnership between Lead SA, Crime Line, the South African Police Service, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department, Community Policing Forums and the public.

"It's only the beginning; we're going to continue this partnership for a long time."

In a statement on the Lead SA website, he added, "The initiative could not come at a better time", and said that, "Drugs are devastating many lives and ruining communities across South Africa."

Tlhabi also asked him whether the problem of police corruption would limit the programme's effectiveness, referring to a caller's complaint that a drug dealer in Douglasdale was largely ignored by the police.

"It is a major cause of concern", he said, "We know that there are certain policemen that are working in cohorts with drug dealers".

Gauteng Police Commissioner Mzwandile Petros tackled the same topic when speaking to John Robbie earlier on Wednesday morning about the launch of the campaign.

Petros said that it is the community as well as the police who are responsible for this kind of corruption.

"The people that are corrupting the police are coming from the community itself."

However, when police officers are found to be involved in corruption the details are communicated promptly to the community, he said.

Petros added that Drug Watch was "a good initiative" and was "long overdue" in the province.

Robbie asked Petros whether he thought the police had been doing enough to solve the drug problem in Gauteng prior to the launch, and was told, "I think we could have done more."

He emphasised the importance of community involvement in solving the problem, saying, "We must deal with the problem at the household level."

In the Western Cape Drug Watch was launched in November 2012. Between then and January 2013, nearly 16,000 people were arrested and R10.5 million worth of drugs were seized in the province.