Safety: City launches specialised K9-Narcotics Unit in the JMPD

The establishment of a dedicated canine unit to wage the war on drugs in Johannesburg will strengthen the City’s ability to act against traffickers and drug peddlers, says Executive Mayor, Herman Mashaba.

The City is sending a clear message that law enforcement in Joburg will relentlessly pursue drug dealers using intelligence at its disposal. At the same time the City will also put in place drug prevention and treatment programmes and work closely with communities through awareness and education.

Speaking at the launch of the K9-Narcotics unit at the JMPD’s Training Academy in Selby, Mayor Mashaba said drug abuse is a scourge with serious implications for community safety in the City. “For years our City has been plagued by crime and drugs. Lives have been lost, families have been broken, communities torn apart and people left brokenhearted and hopeless,” said Mashaba.

“As a parent, I have had enough of how drugs are destroying the lives of many of our young people. Communities have had enough and the City cannot ignore their plight.”

On 30 May 2016, Mashaba promised that if elected Mayor he would create a specialised drug unit within the JMPD. Today that promise becomes a reality.

The JMPD looked at the best performing officers with the highest level of integrity to fill this K9-Narcotics Unit. The unit will also be capacitated with high calibre firearms and high performance vehicles.

A further 19 dogs have been purchased and currently undergoing intensive training and assessment in explosive and narcotics detection.

The K9-Narcotics Unit will focus on drug related crimes in hotspot areas during the first 100 days post its launch.

“Today we declare war on drugs and the drug lords. There will be no safe haven for drug lords in Johannesburg,” said Mashaba.

Noting that drugs are often linked with a variety of social, psychological, financial and health issues, Mashaba said that he cannot ignore a profound truth that lies beneath the surface. “More than any other problem, the drugs epidemic is representative of our City’s deep social divide,” he said.

“A taxi ride between Alex and Sandton should not be a journey between two different worlds. But it still feels like that,” added Mashaba.

Unemployment is increasing the epidemic of drug abuse and alcoholic addiction. In Alexandra, drug abuse cases rose from 56 in 2004 to 1042 in 2014.

Research shows that drug users with low socio-economic status are susceptible to substance abuse as a way of coping and escaping the harsh realities emanating from unemployment and a poor background. “While I realise that drug abuse cannot be reduced to a single factor, unemployment is a significant contributor,” stated Mashaba.

Mayor Mashaba noted that a focus on job creation and proactive anti-drug strategies would help our residents to realise their full potential. “As government, we must create an enabling environment for businesses to flourish. In turn, they will make massive investments to create jobs and reduce the unemployment of over 800 000 of our residents,” said Mashaba.

Mashaba also encouraged communities to report drug dealers and drug dens. “Communities see firsthand who the perpetrators are and I wish to appeal to all communities to come to us in confidence with information that we can act on to make our communities and City a safer environment.”

Mashaba noted that combatting substance abuse is not a task that government can take on alone. “We need a whole of society approach: the parents, the schools, the police and the communities need to work with us to take back our communities from drug dealers and help our children.”

The City’s Social Development Department is implementing an alcohol and drug prevention programme in partnership with local drug action committees in different regions. The action committees bring together community stakeholders to discuss the extent of the drug problem within their areas and to coordinate action.

This reflects the Mayor’s transversal approach to fighting drug and substance abuse that extends beyond law-enforcement in order to address the causes as much as the symptoms.

The Mayor has therefore also mandated the Health and Social Development Department to develop a plan to enhance the City’s ability to provide assistance to addicts through treatment facilities.

In closing, Mashaba wished the new K9-Narcotics Unit success, “I have every confidence in your ability to achieve the goals we have set and I look forward to regular updates on your achievements”.

Councillor Herman Mashaba
Executive Mayor
City of Joburg