New Era (Windhoek)

Namibia: Drugs Worth Over 5 Million Seized in 2012

Rundu — The Namibian Police seized drugs worth N$5.78 million during various operations from January to date, arresting 905 offenders in the process, of whom 808 suspects are Namibians.

Ninety-seven of the suspects arrested for drug related offences for the year are foreigners. Speaking exclusively to New Era on Tuesday pertaining to the 2012 drug statistics in the country, police spokesperson Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi said Namibia has moved from merely being a transit route for drugs to a "user country".

"I am particularly concerned that most of the offenders that were arrested during this year are our economically active age group between 18-28. Drugs can destroy societies, we have seen cases where millionaires have turned into bums because of these dangerous substances," said Kanguatjivi.

Cannabis is the most popular drug in the country with a record 1 563kg worth N$4.68 million confiscated during the course of the year, followed by cocaine, crack, methcathinone and mandrax. Cocaine is second on the list with about 1.73kg worth N$862 500 confiscated during the year, followed by mandrax of which 3258 tablets valued at N$162 900 were confiscated.

Although it is said to have religious and spiritual significance, acute effects while under the influence of cannabis include euphoria and anxiety. Long-term cannabis consumption is also widely believed to increase the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders and could cause major depression.

"Drug pushers know that drugs are highly addictive, and that users will do anything to get them. Given the size of our population, everyone must assist the police to root out drugs in our society," said Kanguatjivi.

In most cases, drug lords lure first time users by giving them the drugs for free just to get them hooked.

Head of the Drug Law Enforcement Unit, Deputy Commissioner Hermie Van Zyl on Wednesday told this reporterthere is an increase in the number of drug consignments from Namibia's northern neighbours, which in recent years started growing and harvesting marijuana.

"At the moment the main route is that from Sao Paulo in Brazil to Luanda and then into Namibia," he said. "We are currently in the process of rewriting our drug law to cater for the new types of drugs in the market, because there are some drugs that are not covered in the existing Act. If a drug is not covered in the Act, it makes it very difficult to prove [its harmfulness] to the court during sentencing," he explained.

Van Zyl also said there are plans to ban the use of the hubbly-bubbly pipe that is in common use, especially by young people. "We have now become a user country of drugs and there is an increase [in the number] of users. I am urging people to refrain from drugs, because it does not only harm you as the user but those around you as well. Drugs often lead users to commit crimes such as theft in order to get money to buy more," said the deputy commissioner.

Female drug users are also at risk because they are often abused sexually and physically by those who sell them the drugs, he said.

Van Zyl said most drug consignments enter the country through the various border posts hidden in trucks and delivery vehicles. "I am urging the public to report all drug dealings in the society. I can assure you that the police will treat the information confidentially," he said.

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