South Africa has a long-standing history of substance use issues. These issues were as prevalent in apartheid as they are today.
South African research relating to the nature and extent of the use of drugs other than alcohol and tobacco among the general adult population in South Africa was non-existent at the end of apartheid. In 1994, former President Nelson Mandela signalled drug abuse as a social pathology that needed combatting during his opening address to Parliament.
The South African Drug Advisory Board's concern for the increase of substance abuse is more than justified. This problem has been identified by the National Drug Master Plan as fuel for crime, poverty, reduced productivity and unemployment problems; not to mention it can lead to dysfunctional family life and even premature death (Drug Advisory Board 1999).
Although South Africa followed international treaties and instituted statutes that made the use of heroin, cocaine, and cannabis criminal offences, few resources were devoted to the enforcement of such laws. Until 1991, South African law divided the population and labelled persons into four major South African defined racial categories: Blacks, Whites, Coloureds, and Asians. These racial divisions remain deeply entrenched in South African society.
South Africa is by far the largest market for illicit drugs within sub-Saharan Africa. Its relative affluence in Africa makes it a tempting ‘emerging market’ in its own right. The influx of new international cultural trends among the more affluent segments of the population is all associated with the increase in drug use and abuse as well as increases in violent and organized crime.
The illegal street drug trade in 2020 is incredibly hard to track. Many "street dealers" are in fact dealers that live overseas and manufacture pure products that are "traded via cryptocurrencies", shipped directly from the supplier to local dealers or to the end-users. These operations are incredibly intricate and sophisticated with delivery routes, packaging and anonymity that are virtually undetectable or impossible to trace or stop without freezing international trade to South Africa.
5 grams here, 2 grams there different suppliers, different routes, different packaging, different sources, different locations. Dealers have sniffer dogs
Local dealers import micro consignments, meet willing buyers anonymously online, geo-tag random "drop off" locations via mobile technology, receive payment via anonymous ATM cash forwards, bitcoin etc, operate from "burner" untracked mobile accounts and never be face to face with the end-user.
Even if consignments are intercepted the micro shipments are often so small, that they are nearly impossible to connect or convict and the paper trail does not exist on the dark web unless account credentials are willingly handed over.
Tracing drug deals
Individual counselling for drug addictions has proven to be one of the most effective ways to combat addictions and for clients to sustain their lasting sobriety and meaningful personal growth. Many people think that substances are the core of the addiction problem. However, substances are very often a temporary solution or coping mechanism used by the person to cope with deeper issues that exist in their emotional wellbeing. These emotional layers form over time and may need to be addressed through more focused talk therapy or addiction counselling.