Blind eye turned to public drug use

Blind eye turned to public drug use

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GK CRONJE

16 March 2021

"We can not infringe on other people’s rights. When the SAPS searches these individuals, they do not carry a large number of drugs, and most of the times we only find them with empty papers."

Over the past few months, the issue of drug use and trafficking in Ermelo and surroundings has become more prominent, with various individuals shamelessly partaking in public displays of defiance in this regard. Most notable is the building at 31 Oosthuise Street, which has now turned into the place to be if you’re looking for a fix. Drug users and addicts openly inject themselves, and each other intravenously, many individuals can be seen snorting their lives away while slouching against the walls, and the pavement is bustling with shady drug deals and trafficking, in broad daylight.

Drug addled users can be seen lounging against the walls or aimlessly staggering around the sidewalk and across the street, much to the frustration of oncoming traffic. Residents in this area have complained to authorities on many occasions, to no avail. Businesses in this area also complained that they have notified the SAPS of the illegal activity at this site, but to date, no palpable action has been taken. “I drive past this sight for sore eyes every morning, and my children are with me in the vehicle. I have to subject them to these issues, and it is completely uncalled for. How can they just be left to peddle and use drugs in public, without any repercussion,” an irate resident told the Tribune ePaper.

Upon enquiry with the SAPS Ermelo, Const. Msizane replied as follows: “ The SAPS has attempted to remove these individuals, but the issue is that the municipality must issue us with the by-laws and the way to deal with this matter. We can not infringe on other people’s rights. When the SAPS searches these individuals, they do not carry a large number of drugs, and most of the times we only find them with empty papers. The SAPS can not make an arrest without any evidence, and even if we arrest them for being intoxicated, we do not have drug test kits on hand to provide as evidence to the court. These individuals have been given the option of rehabilitation in Delmas, but refused.”

The Tribune ePaper referred this nonsensical response regarding the by-laws to Msukaligwa Local Municipality. As would be expected, Mr. Zwane, spokesman for the municipality, stated that the arrest of these individuals carry no connection with the by-laws of the municipality, and that the enforcement of the law remains the duty of the SAPS.