Crime fuelled by drugs

From left are Hawks investigating officer Colonel Koos Jooste, Durbanville police officer Lieutenant Colonel Marius Swanepoel and Durbanville CPF chairperson Denzil Smerdon.

Drugs and substance abuse came under the spotlight at a Durbanville Community Police Forum meeting after the latest national crime statistics showed they are growing problems in Durbanville.

The statistics, released by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko on Friday September 2, showed drug-related crime in the area had risen 43.3 percent from 556 to 797 cases, while there had been a 2.4 percent increase, from 205 to 210 cases, in driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (“The good and bad news is…” Northern News, September 8).

At the meeting at the Durbanville library on Thursday September 8, Durbanville police officer Lieutenant Colonel Marius Swanepoel said drugs and substance abuse fuelled other crime.

“When looking at drug-related crimes, we refer to theft, theft out of motor vehicle, robbery, domestic violence-related cases, house breaking and, sadly, child neglect/abuse,” he said.

“Cases related to this are often theft of community property, theft of private property, impact on the insurance industry, impact on the health budget, time and cost on the judicial system and the loss of production in the workplace.”

Lieutenant Colonel Swanepoel said that from January to July this year, 19.51 percent of all crimes reported had been drug related.

Hawks investigating officer Colonel Koos Jooste was the guest speaker, and he talked about the five levels of organised crime.

“The first level refers to individuals selling drugs on the corner who hustle from day to day; this is dealt with by the police. The second level refers to the intermediator. We, as the Hawks, come in from levels three to five, as this in on a national, provincial and international level.

“At these levels, you find your kingpins. Here we will start by profiling, doing a financial investigation and discussing as a team how we will go about getting this person.”

The investigations were very challenging because they were tracking crimes to their roots and trying to stop them there.

“We don’t look at the problem in isolation, but we look at the bigger picture. We often receive information from the community, but we first need to be able to verify this information before we can act, and that’s the difference between criminal intelligence and evidence” he said.

Desré Benadie, principal inspector for traffic services, spoke about recent clampdowns on drunken drivers in Durbanville – the biggest challenge for traffic services in the area.

“Since January, we have arrested 156 drivers who were over the limit, with the highest reading at 0.96mg, four times over the legal limit.”

She said traffic authorities could make more arrests if they had more staff.

However, the re-introduction of breathalyser testing on Monday August 1 would cut down the time it took to prosecute drunken drivers.