Letter – 22 April 2016

The Editor
An article about SAPS Social crime prevention, the K9 unit and SAPS Crime prevention unit that was published in Mogol Post of last week, 15 April 2016, triggered a spark of hope in my heart, soul and mind. The article was about these units searching learners of Mabalane Seleka Technical School with the aim of seizing and confiscating drugs.
What a patriotic campaign! It is an open secret that drugs are fast gaining a strangle-hold on the youth of South Africa. Drugs are mercilessly destroying the moral fibre of Lephalale community, especially the young generation. Drug lords have invaded Lephalale, targeting our young children. Sunday Times investigative journalist Tina Weavind, was spot-on in her special report that was published in the Sunday Times newspaper of 24 March 2013, titled Sex, Drugs and Jungled nerves, when she wrote: “Drug dealing and prostitution were not part of the quiet Bushveld town of Lephalale…at one of the several well attended bars, a new acquaintance orders a gram of cat – the illegal recreational drug methcathinone. Cocaine is also available.”
Like many investigative journalists, Tina Weavind found that the availability of drugs in Lephalale has zoomed sky-high. Investigations pointed an accusing finger to the following spots as “trading spots” of drugs:
Well attended bars
Shacks at the bus stop next to Boxer store.
Parking space behind Onverwacht Post office.
Corner of Mabalane Seleka Technical school next to Bosveld centre
Marapong township
These areas, according to most investigators, are places where drugs are sold like vetkoekies. These areas produced an unbelievably high number of drug addicts. They have destroyed the future of our young generation. It is at these spots where one will meet an addict who is fluent in English and accurate in calculations; and you realise that he was a genius at school; but drugs destroyed his future. A single visit to these areas will make you understand the meaning of “the future going down the drain.”
According to the study by the Department of Social Development titled: Substance abuse, misuse and abuse amongst the youth of Limpopo that was published in 2013, the age of drug users has decreased dramatically. We now see children as young as nine years using drugs. This was confirmed by Lt Colonel Matlou during his address to Lephalale CPF in May last year. What kind of a nation are we?
When I read in Mogol Post of last week that our law enforcement agencies have joined forces during the search and seize at Mabalane Seleka Technical School, I was very happy. That made my day. I felt I should use this print media to express my appreciation. I know how hard they work to wipe out this monster that is rearing its ugly head at Lephalale. I know that in June last year, the Crime Prevention unit of Lephalale Police arrested three drug dealers who were in possession of illegal substances that included mandrax, dagga, nyaope and dangerous weapons. All these suspects were from Eastern Cape. Hell Devil’s demons! All the way from Eastern Cape to come and mercilessly poison our kids! This is too much for any responsible parent to accept. They found our Lephalale being a “quiet Bushveld area” as Tina Weavind correctly reported it, and they must leave it as such. During the same June month last year, the K9 unit of Lephalale arrested a man selling drugs near the testing ground on OR Tambo drive.
Are you surprised that drug lords from as far as Eastern Cape are sponsoring Lephalale with drugs? You better realise that our area is invaded by drug dealers from beyond South African boarders. A truck from Kenya, carrying clothes was stopped at Groblersburg in December 2014 and more than 12 600 Rohypnol (Flunitrazepam) tablets were found contained in boxes. This consignment was valued at R700 000. In December 2014, two Nigerian men aged 24 and 34, with a local woman aged 25, were arrested for dealing in drugs in Lephalale. This lady was found in possession of two sealed packets of snacks. But she could not fool our wise cops. Upon searching these “packets of snacks”, police found ten rocks of cocaine in one packet and eight rocks in the other. This cocaine was estimated with a street value of R250 000. This young lady, who was from Kempton Park in Gauteng, told the police that she was sent to deliver the goods. A trap was then set for the owners of the drugs and two Nigerian men were arrested.
I am just quoting these few cases to show that indeed Lephalale is flooded with drug dealers and to praise SAPS and Mabalane Seleka Technical School for the search and seize initiative. As a parent with a child in Grade 12 at Mabalane Seleka Technical School I know how the school is trying by all means to address the wave of drugs at school. The school, both the SGB and the staff, deserve praise and support from us as parents. We should spare not one iota of our energy in working towards eradicating this monster called drugs.
Our area is growing very fast economically. We are the home of two power stations. Medupi, when completed, is expected to be the largest dry-cooled, coal-fired power station in the world. That is why the vision of this municipality is “to build a vibrant city and be the energy hub of Africa.” And NOT to build a shanty city and be the drug hub of Africa. But if we really want to save this city-in-the-making from drowning in a sea of drugs, we must act now. In addition to many mines here, we are the home of a large open pit mine called Exxaro Grootegeluk, which produces 18.8Mtpa final coal products with an estimated minable coal reserves of 3 261Mt and a total measured coal resources of 4 719Mt, from which semi-soft cooking oil, thermal coal and metallurgical coal can be produced. We must defend this area of ours against invasion by drug lords.
Our young generation must learn the age-old adage that says “The chains of habit are too soft to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” At adolescent stage you may start taking drugs. It will be cool, nice and soft until you are addicted. By then it will be too strong to be broken. You must learn to say to anyone who offers you drugs “Go to hell! Ke Sharp ke le sober.”
When addressing the United Nations International Drug Control Programme during South Africa’s Legal Workshop on Sub-Regional Cooperation Against Drug Trafficking on 14 November 1994, the first president of democratic South Africa, Dr Nelson Mandela said: “Drug trafficking networks have grown especially due to their unscrupulous attitude of bribing their way out and terrorising the honest. These cartels are a-political and are motivated primarily by financial greed.”
Has drug abuse and misuse grown in Lephalale? Absolutely yes! It has increased incredibly! It does not need a microscope; you can see it with a naked eye. How many drug related crimes were committed at Marapong by nyaope addicts? Innocent lives were lost on Marapong streets because addicts want money for their hit. Lephalale SAPS is inundated with drug related crimes. Statistics released by SAPS on Tuesday 29 September 2015 show that drug related crimes have zoomed sky-high, from 13 drug related crimes in April 2005 to 813 in April 2015.
Former president Mandela was right. Not one of us, especially our law enforcement agencies, should succumb to the temptation of a bribe. But the arrests I mentioned earlier show that law enforcers in Lephalale are prepared to refuse bribes.
Not one of us, especially faith-based organizations, should fear to be terrorised by these cartels. But what is more important is that not one of us ordinary citizens of our beloved country and our rich Lephalale, should keep quite while drug abuse is challenging the moral fibre of our society. Mandela was right: These cartels are a-political and are motivated by financial greed. If drug dealers are a-political, then we must join hands across racial and political affiliations and fight this monster together.
— Nakampe Monyepao
(Nakampe Monyepao is the Manager of Public Participation at Lephalale municipality. He wrote this article in his personal capacity and not representing the municipality.)

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