n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The supply, demand, trafficking and smuggling of drugs in South Africa : a situational review

Volume 2015 Number sed-3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


This article attempts to provide an overview by means of a situational review, using available information in the public domain, of illicit drug demand, supply and cross-border drug smuggling in South Africa. Given the limitations on official statistics and ongoing cases in terms of prosecution, which are often of a sensitive and/or undercover nature, the resulting information, by its nature, therefore provides a broad picture and not necessarily that of an 'on-the ground' approach. Statistics on prosecutions/conviction rates for drug offences are also not available. Accordingly, the data was supplemented by means of media analysis of reported cases of drug smuggling, semi-structured interviews with drug trafficking experts and a literature study. Resulting from this, findings and recommendations were formulated. By making the deduction that drug demand and drug supply are interrelated it was ultimately concluded that drug smuggling would continue as long as there is a demand for drugs, which is then fed by readily available drug supply routes to and from the country. From media reports analysed, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin were the drugs most frequently smuggled in and out of South Africa. Of these three main drugs smuggled, cocaine and methamphetamine were smuggled in the largest quantities. The quantities of heroin found in the possession of arrested South African drug mules were insignificantly small. This contradicts treatment centre data, which were analysed that indicated heroin and methamphetamine users were almost double in numbers in comparison to cocaine users being treated at centres. It is projected that the drug demand in South Africa will continue to increase if the drug supply routes and drug smuggling operations by syndicates are not addressed more firmly by the authorities.

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