Blitz busts 25 drug havens in Manicaland

14 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
Blitz busts 25 drug havens in Manicaland Government remains relentless in cracking down on dealings in narcotics following an upsurge in consumption, especially by youths in urban centres

 

Simba Rushwaya
Senior Reporter

A POLICE blitz has busted 25 drug havens in Manicaland, the highest in the country, as Government remains relentless in cracking down on dealings in narcotics following an upsurge in consumption, especially by youths in urban centres.

In a post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Dr Jenfan Muswere, said 48 drug bases were raided and destroyed countrywide by the Zimbabwe Republic Police, of which 25 havens were in Manicaland.

The province is being used both as a conduit and destination for smuggled illicit drugs, leading to a sharp increase in local consumption and peddling of narcotics even among schoolchildren.

The influx of drugs through the porous border with Mozambique has become a major concern for crime and health experts in the province.

In statistics shared by Minister Muswere, Manicaland had more than half of drug sources destroyed followed by Harare (10), Mashonaland Central (six), Matabeleland North (three), Mashonaland West (two) and Midlands (two).

A total of 2 373 individuals have so far been arrested countrywide in cases related to drug and substance abuse.

As a result, Manicaland benefited from the Government initiative to sensitise youths on anti-drug and substance abuse among the 25 792 who have been reached out to so far.

Minister Muswere said Cabinet approved an upward review of the fine for drug offenders from Level Five of US$30 to Level Seven, which is US$400 (ZiG equivalent) or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.

According to research conducted by the Anti-Drug Abuse Forum (ADAF) from 2017 to date, about 43 percent of high school learners have either used or come into contact with illegal drugs.

ADAF executive director Mr Collin Mapfumo said porous borders and corruption involving law enforcement agents were promoting criminality and drug peddling in Manicaland.

He said the organisation’s research findings from 2017 to date revealed that about 43 percent of high school learners have either used or have been exposed to illegal drugs.

Mr Mapfumo said some young people turn to consumption of or trading in illegal drugs to drown their sorrows or as a source of income.

Detective Assistant Inspector Nathaniel Mugwagwa from the Drugs and Narcotics Unit, revealed that data at hand shows that a high number of drug abusers in the province are mostly males aged between 10 and 40 years.

Asst Insp Mugwagwa said drug abuse was rife in Mutare Urban, Hauna in Honde Valley, Vengere in Rusape, Gaza and Checheche (both Chipinge) and Murambinda in Buhera.

About 60 percent of drug and substance abusers end up at mental health institutions, while there has been recent high prevalence of HIV and AIDS and opportunistic infections among drug users because of sharing sensitive equipment such as needles.

According to National Aids Council (NAC) officer, Mr Raymond Kuyala, the infections come as a result of sharing needles and high risk sexual behaviour during intoxication.

Research by the Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network, which included Manicaland, revealed that two to four people shared needles during drug abuse, while needles are used in “blood bluetoothing” in which drug addicts inject blood among themselves.

Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network director Mr Wilson Box said they have established peer groups to make sure that drug and substance abusers come out in the open and share their experiences as a way of fighting the scourge.

“We have introduced what we call “Bestie” programme, which is aimed at reducing the use of drugs; especially in urban centres where there is high prevalence of uptake. It is a peer outreach educator which identifies reformed drug users who assist us in disseminating anti-drugs messages.

“The issue of drug abuse is a social programme. Our wish is to have the drug suppliers apprehended because they are the sources. We think the police can do more on this front because most of these suppliers are known,” said Mr Box.

Drugs commonly abused in local hotspots include cocaine, morphine, heroin, ecstasy, cannabis, broncleer (bronco), mandrax, hashish and crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as mutoriro, dombo or guka.

As a way to fight drug abuse, Government, through the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, introduced the Drug Mitigation Fund which received RTGS$30 billion, while Empower Bank provides loans for youths to start projects.

Zion Christian Church (ZCC) bishop stationed at Birchenough Bridge, Mr Nicholas Chiwata said many youths at the growth point have taken to drugs.

“We pray for many youths who come to our church facing drug challenges. Most of them say they take drugs because of stress due to unemployment. Some of them take drugs for recreation, but unfortunately we have lost lives in the process,” Mr Chiwata said.

 

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