THE Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) says it is intensifying its operation against illicit drug suppliers and abusers over the Christmas and New Year holidays, with preliminary indications showing an escalation in substance abuse.
The holidays, which have long been synonymous with glitz and glamour, are slowly transitioning into drug abuse festivals and binge hubs, worsening the fate of the young generation, which is now endangered.
A survey by The NewsHawks in Harare’s suburbs prior to the holidays has shown that more young people are taking drugs and involved in crimes such as robbery.
For instance, residents of Sunningdale suburb said some of the robbers are using proceeds from stolen goods to buy drugs, creating fears of an unending vicious cycle of crime and drug abuse, which they fear is going to escalate ahead of the holidays.
In Mbare suburb, walking at dusk is a tremendous risk, with criminal activity by thugs now rampant. These usually target small gadgets like cellphones, and use the proceeds to buy guka (another name for crystal meth).
The phones are usually sold for as little as US$30 or US$40, which residents say is then used to buy more drugs. This week, police said they are prioritising the protection of children against drug and substance abuse over the holidays.
“As the nation steps up the fight against drug and substance abuse in the country, may I urge the public to continue giving my office information on drug barons and suppliers for the law to take its course,” said commissioner-general Godwin Matanga in a statement.
“Parents and guardians should also be at the forefront of safeguarding the youths and adults from the scourge of drug and substance abuse. The police will also take decisive action against anyone operating unlicensed liquor outlets or shebeens during this period. Owners of liquor outlets are enjoined to conduct their business within the parameters of their respective licences.
“My office will also take action on reports of corruption on the country’s roads and other traffic enforcement points by both drivers and Police Officers.” Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said police are continuing with a rapid operation targeting drug suppliers.
“We have an operation towards fighting drug and substance abuse. That is why you would find that the arrests we have made in the past two months have been very outstanding,” said Assistant Commissioner Nyathi.
According to a cabinet briefing dated 12 December, a total of 1 559 people, comprising 112 suppliers and 1 447 end-users, were arrested, while a total of nine hotspots were identified, with nine bases destroyed in Harare and Beitbridge.
ZW$352 528 150 worth of drugs were confiscated, while a total of 30 drug suppliers were convicted, bringing the cumulative convictions since January 2023 to 809.
“Going forward, Cabinet agreed that all drug suppliers should not be given the option of a fine, but go to court in order to ensure that stiff penalties are meted. The Resource Mobilisation Pillar has scheduled meetings for high-level stakeholder engagements with churches, traditional leaders, the private sector and development partners to raise the required resources,” reads the report.
“The legal and policy pillar has consulted key stakeholders in the fight against substance abuse to gather and come up with proposals on amendments of laws and policies governing drug and substance abuse programming. The Ministry is already working on principles for the amendment of the Dangerous Drugs Act (Chapter 15:02).”