2013 INCSR: Country Reports – South Africa through Vietnam
South Africa remains an important market and international distribution hub for illegal narcotics, as well as a source of domestically-produced cannabis and synthetic drugs. Drug-related crimes increased in all nine provinces in 2012 for a country-wide increase of 17 percent, according to the South African Police Service (SAPS) annual crime statistics report. The South African Central Drug Authority’s (CDA) has delayed plans to launch a national narcotics database, part of the 2012-2017 National Master Plan on Drugs. A new asset forfeiture unit and an independent police corruption agency became operational in 2012, increasing tools available to South Africa to counter narcotics. The United States provided specialized training for detectives in 2012 that was well-received.
B. Drug Control Accomplishments, Policies, and Trends
1. Institutional Development
The current draft of the CDA 2012-2017 National Master Plan calls for the creation of a nationwide database to track drug crimes more thoroughly. The plan is still in the review process.
Border control responsibility remains with the South African National Defense Force (SANDF), which struggles to control South Africa’s porous borders. In August 2012, the government instructed SANDF to assist SAPS with intelligence-driven operations in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces to decrease “gang warfare” and “drug hotspots.” The SAPS Directorate of Priority Crimes (DPCI), also known as the “Hawks,” created a Financial Asset Forfeiture Investigative Unit (FAFI) to target the organized crime syndicates that are partly responsible for drug trafficking and money laundering in South Africa. This initiative is based on provisions of the South African racketeering statute, the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA), which is similar to U.S. racketeering statutes. POCA allows for the seizure of assets used in the commission of crimes and the profits from illegal activities, such as drug trafficking. The statute allows for stiffer penalties when the perpetrators are gang members.
The United States and South Africa have bilateral extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties in force. The United States and South Africa also have a letter of agreement on law enforcement and counternarcotics assistance and a customs mutual legal assistance agreement.
2. Supply reduction
Cannabis has long been cultivated in South Africa. Manufacturing of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), methaqualone (mandrax), methcathinone (khat), and methamphetamine (known locally as “tik”) is increasing, according to the CDA.
According to South Africa’s annual crime statistics report released in September 2012, drug-related crime increased nationwide, rising from 150,673 between April 2010 and March 2011 to 176,307 cases between April 2011 and March 2012.
Gauteng province, with the highest urban population in South Africa, recorded a record increase of drug-related cases, up 58 percent from the prior year. Gauteng’s drug-related arrests increased from 16,457 to 25,949. Western Cape Province’s arrests increased by nine percent (from 70,588 to 77,069). Rural Mpumalanga Province, which borders Kruger National Park and Mozambique, had a 30-percent increase in drug-related arrests, from 3,178 to 4,153.
The South African Police Service achieved some law enforcement successes in 2012, thanks partly to specialized counternarcotics training as well as new tools such as the asset forfeiture legislation and the asset forfeiture investigation unit. For example:
- In July, the DPCI arrested a man in possession of approximately $34,483 worth of methamphetamine. Police seized cannabis and equipment valued at approximately $2.3 million during a raid on a drug laboratory in the same area as the methamphetamine arrest.
- In May, police seized 1,100 kilograms of hashish with a street value of approximately $4.4 million.
3. Drug Abuse Awareness, Demand Reduction, and Treatment
Substance abuse is a major social problem in South Africa, contributing to the overall crime rate. Drug-related crime increased in 2012. According to the CDA, the Western Cape Province continues to be affected by gang violence linked to illegal drug sales. Heroin is starting to appear on the South African drug scene, and youth in South Africa appear to be increasingly using methamphetamine, particularly in the Western Cape. A popular mixture of methamphetamine and ecstasy has become a health risk and has led to an increasing number of deaths among users. School-age children in Limpopo province chew khat and are increasingly using “kuber,” a highly addictive nicotine based drug. South Africa lacks addiction research, and treatment availability is limited, with demand widely exceeding availability.
As a matter of policy, the South African government does not encourage or facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotics or launder proceeds from illegal drug transactions. The South African government actively combats narcotics-related corruption. The government implemented an Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Act in 2012 to place greater emphasis on police corruption and enhance public confidence in the efforts of the police. This Directorate replaced the Independent Complaints Directorate with more powers and a direct line of reporting to the Minister of Police. The IPID will investigate most police-related criminality and other corruption for the SAPS.
C. National Goals, Bilateral Cooperation, and U.S. Policy Initiatives
The United States continued to support substance abuse and prevention programs in partnership with the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration office in South Africa provided a two-week course in Basic Narcotics Investigations in September in Pretoria to 14 SAPS and nine Tanzanian Police Force members. The SAPS has requested additional iterations of this course for 2013.
Drug use has not abated in South Africa. There is still a lack of sufficient information to formulate an adequate profile on drug addiction victims. The SAPS is committed to improving the counternarcotics investigative skills of its detectives and achieving greater success with drug interdiction efforts. South Africa’s Prevention of Organized Crime Act, particularly its robust new asset forfeiture provisions, is proving a useful tool in the war against illicit drugs. The country’s new asset forfeiture unit should play an increasing role in countering organized drug sales and trafficking. The United States encourages South Africa to build on these incremental steps and finalize its National Master Plan to provide a unified strategy for reducing the supply and consumption of illicit drugs.