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Cablegate: South Africa: International Narcotics Control Strategy


DE RUEHSA #2277/01 3130643
R 090643Z NOV 09


For INL Lyle, AF/S, and AF/RSA

E.O. 12958: N/A
REPORT 2009-2010

1. Draft International Narcotics Control Strategy Report

South Africa

I. Summary

1. (SBU) While South Africa has greater law enforcement capacity
than most African nations to fight domestic and international drug
trafficking, production, and abuse, it is facing myriad daunting law
enforcement challenges, including serious problems with violent
crime, especially in aggravated residence and small business
robbery, carjacking, and sexual offenses. The country is an
important transit area for cocaine (from South America) and heroin
(from Afghanistan and East Asia) primarily destined for Southern
African and European markets. South Africa is a large producer of
cannabis. According to South Africa's Central Drug Authority, an
estimated nine percent of the population uses cannabis. Some of
South Africa's cannabis production also finds its way to Europe
(primarily the UK). South Africa may also be the world's largest
consumer of Mandrax, a variant of methaqualone, an amphetamine-type
stimulant. Mandrax is a preferred drug of abuse in South Africa and
is often used in combination with cannabis; it is smuggled,
primarily from China, India and other sources. South Africa is a
significant transit country for precursor chemicals. According to
the Organized Crime Threat Analysis prepared by the South African
Police Service (SAPS) Annual Report 2008-2009 most of the organized
crime syndicates in South Africa are foreign-led-primarily Nigerian,
followed by Pakistani and Indian syndicates. Chinese organized
crime is also present. The Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA,
1988), particularly its asset forfeiture section, is a potentially
useful tool for law enforcement. South Africa is a party to the
1988 UN Drug Convention.

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II. Status of Country

2. (SBU) As the most prosperous and one of the most democratic
countries on the continent, South Africa still attracts migrants
from elsewhere in Africa, especially Zimbabwe, despite a rash of
xenophobic attacks in 2008 in which 62 people were killed. The
country's 1800 mile coastline and 3,100 mile porous land border,
coupled with South Africa's relative prosperity have resulted in the
increased use of its territory for the transshipment of contraband
of all kinds, including narcotics. An overloaded criminal justice
system, straining hard just to deal with "street crime," makes South
Africa a tempting target for international organized crime groups of
all types. South Africa has the most developed transportation,
communications and banking systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. The
country's modern telecommunications systems (particularly cellular
telephones), its direct air links with South America, Asia and
Europe, and its permeable land borders provide opportunities for
regional and international trafficking in all forms. Sanctions
busting practices, prevalent in the apartheid era, have continued
under a different guise: instead of smuggling embargoed items, drugs
and other illicit items are now smuggled into and out of South
Africa. South Africa is both an importer and an exporter of drugs
(marijuana produced on its own territory) and precursor chemicals.

3. (SBU) Despite the progress it has made coping with organized
crime, South Africa is the origin, transit point or terminus of many
major drug smuggling routes. Many Nigerians live in South Africa,
many of them illegally, and dominate the drug trade in the country.
Cannabis is cultivated in South Africa, as well as imported from
neighboring countries (Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe),
and exported to neighboring countries (e.g., Namibia) and Europe
Qand exported to neighboring countries (e.g., Namibia) and Europe
(mainly Holland, UK) as well as consumed in South Africa itself.
Methamphetamine (locally known as "tik") is manufactured in South
Africa for local consumption, and there has been an explosion in
usage, especially in Cape Town and, more recently, in Pretoria. Both
heroin and cocaine are imported into South Africa (from Asia and
Latin America, respectively), and also exported to Europe, Australia
and even the U.S. and Canada. Cocaine from South America generally
transits through Brazil, particularly Sao Paolo, and further moves
through Angola and Namibia en route to South Africa. Regular 1-2
kilogram quantity seizures of cocaine at O.R Tambo International
Airport in Johannesburg also indicate that a large volume of cocaine
moves directly from Brazil to South Africa. To curb this
trafficking, especially as the 2010 World Cup approaches, South
Africa needs increased international cooperation and assistance in
the effective use of international controlled deliveries and

4. (SBU) South Africa ranks among the world's largest producers of
cannabis. South Africa's most widely used drug is marijuana,
followed by methaqualone (Mandrax), often used in combination with
marijuana (locally called "white pipe"). Most cannabis exports go to
Europe and the UK. In terms of use of narcotics, heroin is a
particularly dangerous new trend among South Africans, who
traditionally only used "dagga" (the local name for marijuana). The
Medical Research Council reported in 2008 that heroin abuse is
increasing in the provinces of Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Western

Cape. According to press reports, heroin is widely abused in
Pretoria. South Africa is becoming a larger producer of synthetic
drugs, mainly Mandrax and methamphetamine, with precursor chemicals
smuggled in and labs established domestically.

5. (SBU) As in previous years, a number of clandestine narcotics
laboratories were dismantled. In 2008, in the province of Kwa-Zulu
Natal, SAPS (South Africa Police Service) introduced an initiative
to root out clandestine laboratories through training and
partnership with the local chemical industry. The "South African
Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use" (SACENDU) reported that
although alcohol remains the dominant substance of abuse in South
Africa, cannabis and Mandrax alone or in combination continue to be
significant drugs of abuse. "Club drugs" and methamphetamine abuse
are emerging as a major concern, especially in Cape Town and
Pretoria where the increase in treatment demand for methamphetamine
addiction treatment is dramatic.

6. (SBU) Methamphetamine has emerged as the main substance of abuse
among the young in Cape Town and in Pretoria. In Cape Town,
two-thirds of drug abusers are reported to be using tik as a primary
or secondary substance of abuse. The increase in treatment
admissions for methamphetamine-related problems in Cape Town
represented the fastest increase in admissions for a particular drug
ever noted in the country, and of particular concern is the large
number of adolescent users. This increased use of methamphetamine
is "strongly linked to gang culture on the Cape Flats." According
to the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cape Town has become the
methamphetamine capital of South Africa, with 98 percent of patients
seen across the provinces coming from this city. The MRC estimates
that nowhere else in the world has Tic grown as quickly as in the
poorer colored communities of the Western Cape, surpassing mandrax
as the drug of choice. Five years ago just 15 cases involving Tik
were reported in the Western Cape. Last year this had increased to
2,628 cases with 91 percent of the users being colored males between
the ages of 12 and 21. The increase in the use and addiction of Tik
is not only a social problem, but is having a larger impact on
economic and security issues. According to the South African Police
Services (SAPS), 60 percent of all crimes are related to substance
abuse, and in the Western Cape that figure is closer to 80 percent
largely as a result if Tik. The perpetrators of these crimes are
either under the influence of Tik, or trying to secure money for
their next fix. The Central Drug Authority estimates that the
socio-economic costs of drug abuse are R20 billion every year. The
direct economic impact of Tik can be found in a study released in
July, 2008, by the Small Business Project in the Western Cape. The
study found that more than half of small businesses in the region
had experienced at least one incident of crime in the last year.
Small businesses lose up to 20 percent of their turnover to crime.
According to the government's crime statistics, in 2008-9 robberies
of business premises increased by 47.4 percent from the previous
year. The Institute for Security Studies released a report in May
2007 which said that while colored gangs are believed to produce and
control Tik, the Chinese mafia is the main supplier of the
production ingredients.

III. Country Actions against Drugs in 2009

7. (SBU) Policy Initiatives. Combating the use of, production of,
and trafficking in illicit narcotics remains an important component
of the anticrime agenda of the South African Government (SAG). The
Qof the anticrime agenda of the South African Government (SAG). The
U.S. co-sponsored a drug prevention best practices conference in
Cape Town October 19-21 as part of the Central Drug Authority's
stepped up drug prevention awareness effort. The SAG tends to
target its limited anti-crime resources on serious, violent and
domestic crime, but is making greater efforts to curb the substance
abuse it acknowledges is at the root of much violent crime. South
Africa still has one of the world's highest rates of murder and
rape. According to the South African Police Service Annual Report
for 2008/9, the murder rate fell 3.4 percent and sexual offenses
increased 12 percent (note: sexual offenses is a new category of
crime statistics replacing the categories of rape and indecent
assault, so the comparison with previous statistics is not fully
valid. End note); however, aggravated robbery increased .8 percent,
and robberies at residential premises increased by 27.3 percent.
The porous borders are crossed daily by criminals trafficking in all
sorts of contraband, including illicit drugs, stolen cars, illegal
firearms, diamonds, precious metals, and human beings. Following
the April 22 election of President Jacob Zuma, the Ministry of
Safety and Security was renamed the Police Ministry, and Zuma
insider Bheki Cele was appointed national Police Commissioner,
ending a long interim period wherein the SAPS were run by an acting
commissioner as former commissioner Selebi awaited trial on
corruption charges. The Cabinet-level interagency "Justice
Cluster" works to help coordinate the law enforcement and criminal
justice system's responses to various challenges. Reconsideration
is underway of decisions taken in 2003 to disband and integrate
specialized police burueas, such as the Narcotics Bureau and the
Child Protections Units. The loss of specialized drug enforcement
experience has impeded counternarcotics progress. Another blow was
the 2008 elimination of the Directorate of Special Operations of the

National Prosecuting Authority (popularly know as "The Scorpions"),
an elite unit created to investigate fraud that later expanded into
drug investigation. The successor to the Scorpions, known as the
"Hawks," is still largely untested but has claimed credit for
several important drug busts. The Central Drug Authority maintains
and updates as necessary the "national drug master plan." Other SAG
agencies involved in counter narcotics efforts include-in varying
degrees-the Home Affairs Department, the Customs Service, and the
Border Police (a part of SAPS). The Border Police have 55 land
border posts, 10 air-border posts and 9 sea-border posts.
Intelligence organizations and the port and airport authorities also
have a role in identifying and suppressing drug trafficking. The
SAPS 2008/2009 Annual Report noted that an analysis of threats from
organized crime groups over the past decade identified drug crimes
as accounting for the largest proportion of the known threats. The
report said that drug smuggling as an organized crime activity
usually ties in with other aspects of organized crime, such as
diamond smuggling, gold smuggling, abalone pirating and vehicle
hijacking. SAPS concluded that drugs such as Mandrax, cocaine,
heroin, Ecstasy and Tik pose major threats to South Africa since
they lead to violent crime such as murder, attempted murder, rape
and assaults.

8. (SBU) Law Enforcement Efforts. Drug-related crimes, according
to the annual SAPS 2008/9 Report increased by a statistically
insignificant 4 percent from the 2007/2008 report. There were
109,134 drug-related crimes in 2008. Additional enforcement
successes were reported in the press. On January 29, 2009, 230
kilograms of cocaine were seized in Durban. On September 14, 2009,
six metric tons of hashish and 116 kilograms of cocaine were seized
in Durban. SAPS' Airport Interdiction Unit makes weekly seizures of
cocaine from South America and heroin from Pakistan at the
Johannesburg and Cape Town Airports.

9. (SBU) Corruption. Accusations of police corruption are
frequent. Credible evidence of narcotics-related corruption among
South African law enforcement officials has not, however, been
brought to light. Some suspect that the reported quantities of
seized drugs are lower than actual seizures, and that the difference
finds its way back out on the street. Some amount of corruption
among border control officials does appear to contribute to the
permeability of South Africa's borders. As a matter of policy,
however, the South African government does not encourage or
facilitate the illicit production or distribution of narcotic or
psychotropic drugs or other controlled substances, or the laundering
of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. Likewise, no senior
official of the federal government is known to engage in, encourage
or facilitate such illicit production, or to launder proceeds of
illegal drug transactions.

10. (SBU) Agreements and Treaties. South Africa is a party to the
1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic
Substances, and the 1961 UN Single Convention as amended by the 1972
Protocol. South Africa is a party to the UN Convention against
Corruption, and is also a party to the UN Convention against
Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols against trafficking
in persons, migrant smuggling and illegal manufacturing and
trafficking in firearms. The U.S. and South Africa have bilateral
extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements in force. All
extradition matters in recent years, however, have been put on hold
Qextradition matters in recent years, however, have been put on hold
because of appeals raised by fugitives challenging the validity of
the U.S.-South African extradition treaty. On January 21, 2009, the
South African Constitutional Court ruled that the treaty was valid.
Government officials have indicated that they intend to move quickly
on the pending extradition cases. Both countries have also signed a
Letter of Agreement on Anticrime and Counter-narcotics Assistance
which provides for U.S. training and commodity assistance to several
South African law enforcement agencies. In 2000, the U.S. and South
Africa signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement.

11. (SBU) Cultivation/Production. Cannabis or "dagga" grows wild in
Southern Africa and is a traditional crop in many rural areas of
South Africa, particularly the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal
provinces. It also grows wild and is cultivated in neighboring
Swaziland and Lesotho. It is possible to have three cannabis crops
a year on the same piece of land in South Africa. Most South
African cannabis is consumed domestically or in the region.
Increasing amounts are, however, being seized in continental Europe
and the UK. Some top-end estimates are that 20,000 to 30,000
hectares of arable land are used to grow cannabis, although most
observers estimate the area dedicated to illicit cannabis to be
about 1,500-2,000 hectares. Although the police force, with some
success, sprays cannabis in South Africa, Swaziland, and Lesotho,
illicit street prices never seem to rise-an indication of
uninterrupted supply. Mandrax, amphetamine, and methamphetamine are
also produced in South Africa for domestic consumption. Among South
Africans, "dagga" and Mandrax are the traditional drugs of choice;
in more recent years, there has been rising interest in domestically
produced amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and imported heroin.
Drug flow/Transit. Significant amounts of cocaine reach South
Africa from South America. Cocaine is readily available on the

local illicit market. Cocaine is mainly brought in by Nigerian
syndicates, or people who work for them. South Africa, once a
country of transshipment, has become a country with its own market.
The consumption of cocaine, both powder and crystalline ("crack"),
is on the increase. Heroin is smuggled into South Africa from
Southeast and Southwest Asia, with some moving on to the U.S. and
Europe. Most heroin trafficked into South Africa is intended for
domestic consumption. Consumption of heroin among South African
youth has increased with the advent of smokable heroin. An
additional risk in terms of intravenous drug abuse is HIV/AIDS, a
major health issue in South Africa. South Africans also import
"dagga" from Swaziland and Lesotho, considering it to be of higher
quality than the domestic version. Abuse of methaqualone (Mandrax)
and other ATS tablets is on the rise too, especially among urban
youth. Even Ecstasy finds its way into townships. Diverted
precursor chemicals, some produced locally and some imported into
South Africa, are also a growing problem. Many drug liaison
officers, as well as South African Police Service officers, believe
that South Africa is becoming a place for traffickers to warehouse
their stocks of various drugs before sending them on to other
countries. They believe that criminals view South Africa as a "weak
enforcement" option for such warehousing operations. Nigerian,
Pakistani, Indian, Colombian, Venezuelan, and Chinese syndicates are
all taking advantage of the fact that South Africa, in addition to
"weak enforcement," has excellent financial, transportation, and
communications facilities. Traffickers of Nigerian origin may be
the most established of organized crime groups operating in South
Africa. Using South Africa as their base for world-wide operations,
they are involved in virtually every aspect of drug trafficking.

12. (SBU) South Africa remained among the world's major importers
of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine in 2009, listing its annual
legitimate requirement for both chemicals at 20,000 kg. each;
however, South Africa's imports of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine
have declined each year for the past three years. The South African
Police Service's Chemical Control Program is by far the most
progressive in Africa, but the potential for diversion of ephedrine
and pseudoephedrine remains an area of concern. South Africa
participates in the UN-sponsored program Project Prism and is a
member of the Project Prism Task Force, serving as the focal point
for Africa. South Africa is actively involved in the law
enforcement initiatives being developed pursuant to Project Prism to
halt the diversion of precursors to illicit chemical trafficking and
drug manufacturing organizations around the world.

13. (SBU) Drug trafficking via South African airports and the crew
of the national carrier South African Airways (SAA) remains a
concern. The Airport Company of South Africa (ACSA), which runs all
of the international airports in the country, recently revised
contracting requirements for baggage handlers to deal with theft and
smuggling issues. Equity Aviators, which used temporary staff and
subcontractors for its security screening processes has lost its
ACSA permit. Baggage handling companies are now required to hire
permanent staff in to order to receive an ACSA permit.

14. (SBU) Two SAA crews were detained in the UK for drug smuggling
in January and February 2009. SAA announced the creation of a task
team in February 2009 to probe a second drug bust of crew members in
London on suspicions of carrying five kilograms of cocaine. The
QLondon on suspicions of carrying five kilograms of cocaine. The
measures introduced by SAA following the January incident included
changing security systems , adding physical searches of bags, and
suing sniffer dogs airside. These and other measures will now be
extended across all SAA flights. Poorly paid screening staff
remains a concern.

15. (SBU) Domestic Programs/Demand Reduction. South Africa has had
a long history of Mandrax and "dagga" (cannabis) abuse; drug
counselors have noted large increases in the number of patients
seeking treatment for crack and heroin addiction. There are many
people seeking treatment who are unable to register with any
program, and those who manage to enter a rehabilitation program find
that available services are constrained by lack of resources.
Education of the general public about the dangers of drug addiction
remains a high priority for the government. SAPS are continuing
their visible crime deterrence policy by organizing visits and
counternarcotics lectures in schools with assistance from the
Department of Education and NGOs. The objective is to curb the
influence of illegal drugs among children. The National Awareness
Program, sponsored by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime
(UNODC), the Department of Police and the Central Drug Authority,
and originally launched in Cape Town in 2003, continues to present
facts on drugs and their dangers to young people, students and

16. (SBU) Certain successes have been achieved within the
correctional system as well, mainly through the efforts of NGOs. In
South African prisons, up to 70 percent of inmates are drug users
(with an even higher percentage among incarcerated defendants
awaiting trial), according to NGO contacts. Among the main
rehabilitation program organizers is the South African National
Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (SANCA), KHULISA, the

Center for Socio-Legal Studies and Creative Education with Youth at
Risk, the President's Award for Youth Empowerment, and the National
Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders
(NICRO). "Peer" counselors, trained by KHULISA within the prison
system, continue to organize counternarcotics lectures and seminars
for inmates. Some of the government-employed prison officials have
also received basic training in this area.

IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs

17. (SBU) Policy Initiatives. U.S. law enforcement officers from
the DEA, FBI, DHS/ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement), the
Secret Service, and the State Department's Security Office and
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL)
successfully cooperate with their South African counterparts. The
U.S. also continues to urge the SAG to strengthen its legislation
and its law enforcement system to be able to prosecute more
sophisticated organized criminal activities, including drug
trafficking. Some U.S. training has been provided to the national
police, the metropolitan police forces of Johannesburg and Tshwane
(Pretoria), the Special Investigating Unit (since disbanded), the
Department of Home Affairs, the Customs and Revenue Service, and
others. The U.S. through State INL sponsored a drug prevention best
practices conference in Cape Town September 19-21, 2009.

18. (SBU) The Road Ahead. Bilateral links between the United States
and South African law enforcement communities are in the interest of
both countries and even closer cooperation in the future is in both
sides' interest.


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