Windhoek-The increase in the usage, selling and trafficking of illicit drugs in Namibia such as cocaine, ecstasy and heroin has become a serious threat for the general population and law enforcement alike.
Illicit drug use include the non-medical use of a variety of drugs that are prohibited such as amphetamine (crystal meth), cannabis, mandrax, cocaine, crack cocaine, ecstasy and heroin, among others.
Cocaine is trafficked into Namibia from Latin American countries such as Brazil, while cannabis (dagga) comes mainly from South Africa, Angola and Zambia where there are drug plantations.
Speaking in a telephonic interview with New Era from Brazil, an employee at the Namibian embassy in Brazil said there are five Namibian women in Brazilian prisons for drug-related crimes.
“Some are very recent while others are from about three years ago,” said the employee. There are no details of men regarding drug offences because women are used as drug mules.
“It’s heartbreaking what happens to them (women). They all have the same story to tell,” said the employee, who stressed the need for a campaign to educate women on the dangers of carrying drugs for “other people”.
“Some of these women’s families did not know where their children went only to hear from us when we inform them that they have been arrested for drug-related crimes,” the source explained.
The sentence imposed on offenders is up to ten years, he added. Over the years, many Namibians completed their prison time. “Some get pardoned on good behaviour,” added the source.
“If you are arrested in Brazil they don’t play. They don’t compromise that you will get bail to come back to Namibia and go back for trial at a later stage. Once you are caught, rest assured you will be sentenced,” warned Deputy Commissioner Fabian Musweu, the head of the Namibian Police Force’s Drug Law Enforcement Division.
Further, he said, he does not know whether the drug mules are told of the dangers of carrying drugs before embarking on their journey.
“Those Namibian women are recruited by foreign nationals to act as couriers or mules. We don’t know what they are promised. But there must be a lucrative reward,” added Musweu.
The usage and selling of drugs in the country is just as much a problem as the smuggling of drugs, noted Musweu, who together with Detective Inspector Maria Louw of the Drug Law Enforcement Division gave detailed insight on the situation in Namibia.
“Drugs are serious in Namibia in the sense that they are all over. Most of our people are using drugs. The youngest person we arrested was nine years old, while the oldest one is 75 years old. It means that is serious,” noted Musweu.
Drugs are found all over the country but statistics from the Drug Law Enforcement Division of Nampol show that most drug merchants and drug users who are caught are from //Kharas, Khomas and Erongo regions.
In Khomas alone 205 people were arrested last year for drug crimes in Windhoek, of whom 129 were Namibian. The others were nationals of Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. From this, 18 were women.
This year 129 people were arrested for drug-related crimes in Windhoek. These statistics are up to last Friday (June 16).
Dagga, crack cocaine, cocaine powder, ecstasy, crystal meth known as tik, compressed cannabis (dagga), as well as skunk (cannabis) are found in the country .
Tik is a mixture of methamphetamine, ARVs, crack cocaine and other types of household and industrial chemicals and are currently trending on the market, said Louw.
Hubbly-bubbly (known as hookah) is also a problem particularly amongst the youth, she added.
“Hubbly-bubbly is not illegal but it’s becoming a threat for the Namibian Police Force.”
Musweu cautioned that the danger of using hookah is that when used in groups, people swallow each other’s saliva during the smoking process. “That means that if I’m having tuberculosis it can spread in that manner,” said Musweu.
One tablet of mandrax costs N$100. LSD and ecstasy are also popular, and sold for N$100, explained Louw.
Also, one gram of cocaine costs N$500 while CAT is also sold for N$500 a gram. Furthermore, Louw explained that addicts normally use crack cocaine worth N$20,000 to N$30,000 a night and cocaine powder, especially over weekends to satisfy their addiction.
“Crack cocaine is popular here and it is destroying our nation,” added Louw.
They also showed the New Era team the cocaine pellets, which are usually swallowed by drug mules. “You can buy it for N$3,500-00 for one ‘bullet’. They break it up in grams or they cook it. They put in cocaine powder and other chemicals such as red poison, household chemicals like, Vim, bleach, baking powder,” said Louw.
Crystal meth and cocaine powder have similar effects, said Louw.
Furthermore, most schoolchildren who do drugs are hooked to drugs such as cannabis and crack cocaine and use ecstasy at entertainment places.
“Drugs are highly addictive, especially crack cocaine. Once you try it you are hooked, that’s why they call it ‘Eat Sum-More’ on the streets because like the biscuits, when you eat one you just want some more,” warned Louw.