By Lahja Nashuuta
According to police spokesperson, Kauna Shikwambi, the drug crimes that used to be associated with the black community is slowly changing its face with members of the white community more and more likely to be arrested for selling or being in possession of drugs than blacks.
Namibia is one of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) member states that continue to be used not only as a conduit for drugs destined for international markets but also a harbour for local consumption.
Experts claim that the country’s geography and infrastructure make it the perfect springboard for trafficking throughout the region. The most popular drug found in the country is marijuana (dagga), and it is relatively cheap. Other drugs include cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and mandrax.
The use of cheap, readily available crystal methamphetamine (tik) is also on the rise.
Besides Namibia being a transit point, drug consumption is also on the rise, the Namibian Police (Nampol) Public Relations Head, Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi confirmed.
Namibian Drug Law Enforcement Unit reports show that police have confiscated drugs worth N$800 million over the past two years from which a total of 737 people were arrested for drug trafficking in 2017.
The Drug Law Enforcement Unit of the Namibian Police Force has alsoconfiscated illicit drugs worth N$9.5 million over the past four months and managed to arrest 423 suspects between January and May 2019.
While statistics are lacking, law enforcement agencies have confirm that the whites community were about 65 per cent more likely than blacks to sell drugs in Namibia. Last year, the Namibian Police’s Drug Law Enforcement Unit raided the house of an alleged drug dealer in Kleine Kuppe where they discovered drugs worth over N$200 000.
A police crime report said that the drugs varied from Skunk, MDMA, LSD, Ecstacy, Shrooms also known as magic mushrooms, cocaine, cat, schedule 5 medicines, and steroids and needles.
The suspects have been identified as Buruxa Buru Bukus (30), Lee Douglas Surtees Jenkins (19), Wesley Welgemoed (19) and Verena Salzmann (30).
This followed another incident of drug confiscation that took place in June this year, when Namibia Customs and Excise Department and stakeholders made a drug bust estimated at N$206 million at Walvis Bay.
The container full of cocaine confiscated at the Walvis Bay port is believed to have come from Brazil, on its way to other markets in South Africa and Angola.
A white Namibian Dinath Azhar, 62, who resides at the luxurious Longbeach resort was arrested along Grant Noble, 36, from Narraville, in connection with the case.
With sketchy statistics, Shikwambi believes there are no huge racial differences in the drug dealings between black and white communities.
“The arrest of white boys is not unique whatsoever because white offenders were previously arrested on drug-related matters as well as other crimes” she said. Although drugs are associated with high-density suburbs like Katutura in Windhoek, Shikwambi offers that expensive drugs are normally used by rich people.
“So this is not a surprise for such drugs to be found in affluent suburbs as they can afford it. What is most prevalent on a daily basis in the Katutura suburbs is what is presumed to be affordable substances such as cannabis, crack cocaine and mandrax,” she said.
The only difference is that in poor, black neighbourhoods drugs tend to be sold outdoors, in the open. In white neighbourhoods, by contrast, drug transactions typically happen indoors, often between friends and acquaintances.
Shikwambi points out transboundary drug trafficking as one of the challenges facing law enforcement agencies in combating illicit drug in the country. “Our borders with neighbouring countries are vast; as such, drugs may enter at un-gazetted entry points and that poses a challenge. Another challenge is when drugs are concealed on the person.
However, we have been successful in many cases through intelligence-led investigations,” she said. Shikwambi agrees drug trafficking was not only unavoidably associated with violence and organised crime, but it was also, in several countries, linked to terrorist activities.
It was also connected to other criminal activities, like money laundering, arms and human trafficking, and corruption.
She therefore recommends SADC’s need for the introduction of a comprehensive regional strategy to collectively address drug issues, introduce new approaches aimed primarily at reducing the number of drugs entering individual countries and reducing the demand for drug consumption in the country.