Eight members of the Cape Town’s drug and gang task team will help the city tackle the big narcotics problem it faces by killing the supply and demand in the area, once they come back from specialised training with the United States’s Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille on Tuesday announced that the members – chosen because of a combination of their skills and training – would attend a five-day advanced drug agent course from January 26 in Gaborone, Botswana.
She said the training was part of a partnership with the DEA, which started in 2009.
“The Cape Town’s safety and security directorate has received extensive training from the United States DEA over the last four years, for which we are very grateful. Since 2009, the United States government has invested more than R10-million in the city of Cape Town metro police through drug enforcement training, study tours, school resources officers that we’ve had in training and also FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) management training.”
The eight police officers will be expected to share their knowledge with their colleagues and help train them once they are back from the course, in time for the March campaign against drugs in the city.
“Our strategy around drug and substance abuse is not only enforcement. We started more than a year ago with a campaign that says ‘don’t start, be smart’ where we targeted young minds that were not using drugs. Then we established a 24-hour helpline, seven days a week. Then we moved the campaign to target the families of people using drugs.
“In March, we are launching another campaign where we are targeting the supply and demand, and this is where the training is going to come very helpful, because as long there is a demand for the drugs, the supply will be there. And we have to begin to reduce both supply and demand, by targeting the people who [are] selling these drugs to our children and the training they [task force members] will receive will help them on the enforcement side with that, but we have a holistic strategy that deals with the socio economic issues in our communities.”
Adding to existing skills
Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said the training course would be to add on to the existing skills of the eight members.
“They are going to learn more about counter drug investigations and crime intelligence, assessment and analysis. Dealing with more advanced topics like the clandestine laboratories, managing undercover operations … When we took the city over in 2006, the city barely touched drugs and gangs, it was a SAPS (South African Police Service) problem. It wasn’t something the city looked at or budgeted. Now we have dedicated teams on it.”
Last week, trade union federation Cosatu’s Western Cape provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich took a jibe at Smith, accusing him of giving up on trying to fight crime and instead taking the sea.
“The mayoral committee member for safety and security has finally given up on securing the lives of township residents who are overcome by gangsterism and crime and has taken to the sea. He has been so ineffective in dealing with the safety of citizens of Cape Town that calls from many quarters have come in for his removal.
“Now in an effort to reinvent himself, he goes and buys a rubber duck of nearly half a million rand, to save mainly white people who go out on their luxury boats in the seas surrounding Cape Town,” he said in a statement.
Smith this afternoon said the members of the task team were already getting impressive results and the training would help them go further in fighting crime.
US Consul-General Teddy Taylor said law enforcement was the first and most important bedrock aspect of democratic societies.
“Without police departments to provide safety to the citizens, it is very difficult to exercise the other rights of citizenship in a democratic society. Therefore it is our pleasure to be able to provide this small amount of training, which will go into more detail about how to start investigations and complete them with networks.”
The course will also include representatives from Botswana, Ghana, Namibia and Uganda.