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900 arrests in fight against drugs

Mzwandile Petros says Crime Line has become one of the police's strongest weapons.

Police raid a house in Westbury, Johannesburg, on 26 June looking for drugs. Picture: Michelle Lubbe/EWN

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Gauteng Police Commissioner Mzwandile Petros says Crime Line has become one of the police's strongest weapons in fighting drug dealing.

Petros launched Drug Watch with Lead SA Crime Line and the Gauteng provincial government at the Sophiatown Police Station on Wednesday.

He says thousands of people in the province have already been sending tip offs about drug dens to the hotline and the arrest of more than 900 suspects proves how well it works.

"It's the strongest weapon because the integration of the police will always be questioned so I think Crime Line as a source of giving information anonymously is the way to go."

TOUGHER FIGHT AGAINST DRUGS

Meanwhile, speaking to Redi Tlhabi, Head of Crime Line and activist for Lead SA Yusuf Abramjee said Drug Watch 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."

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.

'SA A MAJOR TRANSIT ROUTE FOR DRUGS'

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) says South Africa remains a major transit route for drug mules spreading narcotics throughout the world.

ISS researcher Charles Goredema said many narcotics are manufactured elsewhere and trafficked through the country to other parts of the world, while large amounts are distributed within its borders as well.

Goredema told Eyewitness News that levels of trafficking as well as substance abuse in the country remain high.

"South Africa has a problem with drug trafficking as a country from which drugs are exported to other parts the world and also as a country which receives theses, especially hard drugs."

It is also a major "consumer of narcotics," he said.

Goredema says more should be done to clamp down on the drug trafficking routes through South Africa.

He explained that Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia and European nations including the Netherlands, UK and Germany share important transit links with South Africa which allows for large-scale trafficking

The revelation comes a day after Drug Watch was launched in Gauteng and a few months after its launch in the Western Cape.

The initiative has seen multiple arrests and seizures of drugs in the two provinces.

The UN also marked the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on Wednesday.