Elderly women used as drug peddlers

Ellanie Smit
Drug dealers in Namibia are recruiting unemployed youths, learners and even elderly women as ‘runners’ to make drugs more accessible, while also using police officers as their agents.

This according to Hardap regional commander, Commissioner Sydney Philander, who said drug dealers in Rehoboth specifically have advanced their criminal activities by recruiting unsuspected members of the public to do their dirty work.

“They have gone to the extent of recruiting police officers to act as their agents to tip them off when operations are planned. It is also known to us that some police officers are abusing drugs and indebted themselves with the drug dealers, which is the reason why they are being used by the dealers.”

He said since last year, about 101 drug-related cases were registered in the region, in which 138 suspects were arrested and charged.

Millions in drugs

According to statistics, since 2019, police have arrested more than 500 suspects in connection with drug crimes, and confiscated more than N$11 million worth of drugs.

Meanwhile, drugs to the value of more than N$1.3 million were seized last month, with police officers arresting 104 suspects in connection with drug-related matters. Of these suspects, 98 were Namibian, four Angolans, one Tanzanian and one Zambian national.

According to the drug seizure and arrest report for June, 31.34 kg of cannabis valued at N$314 374, 6 314 mandrax tablets valued at N$757 680 and 513 grams of cocaine powder were confiscated. A total of 198 units of crack cocaine – to the tune of N$19 800 – and two Cytotec abortion pills valued at N$1 500 were also seized.

In its quest to address the possession, use and dealing of drugs, the police recently hosted a crime prevention operation in Rehoboth, where various speakers - including rehabilitated drug users - spoke.

The aim is to educate, deter and protect lives from the use of these illicit substances across Namibia, the police said.

Drug trafficking global concern

Major General Joseph Shikongo, deputy inspector-general for police operations, said drug trafficking is a worldwide phenomenon and is not limited to a particular area, region or country.

He said the statistics indicate that from 2019 to 2022, a total of 525 suspects were arrested in connection with drug-related crimes involving cannabis, skunk, mandrax and crack cocaine, amongst other substances.

Of the 525 suspects arrested, 393 are men, 79 women and 53 are male juveniles.

The estimated value of the drugs confiscated is N$11.94 million.

“It is our priority to continue conducting awareness campaigns in order to educate members of the community on how to fight and prevent illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs and other transnational crimes,” Shikongo said.