A 29-year-old man was arrested in Churchill Road, Plumstead, after selling dagga to an undercover police officer. The police set up the undercover trap after several tip-offs that the man was selling drugs to school children in uniform – some of whom were primary school children.
Warrant Officer Keith Chandler said: “After numerous complaints and tip-offs from the community, observation was done at the area of complaint.
“It was observed that schoolchildren in school uniform were buying drugs at a car wash,” he said. “In no way is the car wash or petrol station linked to the drugs being sold. In fact, they were very helpful in the investigation.”
Warrant Officer Chandler said police applied to the prosecuting authority for authorisation to conduct an undercover trap operation, which took place on Friday May 20, at noon. One man was arrested and two others were taken to the police station for questioning.
Warrant Officer Chandler said both primary and high school children were seen buying dagga from the man.
“We have footage of all the children who bought drugs and we will be following up on it,” Warrant Officer Chandler said.
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“The majority of them were high school pupils but there were some 12- and 13-year-olds too.”
The suspect appeared at Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Monday May 23 on charges of drug trafficking.
Michael Kent, the chairman of the Diep River Community Police Forum (CPF), said he found the extent of drug abuse and use among young people “alarming”.
“Drug abuse and use among youngsters, seems to be worse and worse,” he said. “There seem to be more and more cases.”
Mr Kent said this is not the first drug bust involving schoolchildren in Plumstead.
He said several weeks ago police arrested a boy at his home for drug use. His parents, who were at work, thought the boy was at school.
“I’m alarmed at the fact,” he said. “Drugs are causing children to drop out of school.”
Warrant Officer Chandler confirmed that there is an increase in drug abuse involving minors. “Yes, there is an increase in schoolchildren using drugs,” he said. “Even though this was just dagga, it does accelerate to more harsh experimentation.”
Craig George, the principal of Plumstead High School, said that there has been no increase in drug-related incidents at the school. He said that a few children at the school had on occasion come to school smelling of drugs.
“We would get a whiff off children abusing something. It would have happened before school or on their way coming to school.”
He said the children were referred to the school’s on site social worker for counselling and intervention and their parents were called. He said the school had ongoing drug education programmes.
Beverley Johnson, principal of John Graham Primary School, said the school had not been informed that primary schoolchildren had been buying drugs. The primary school is opposite the car wash where the bust took place.
Nevertheless when news of the bust broke on social media, the school discussed it at an assembly.
“We had an assembly to inform the children that there was an arrest and to make them aware of the dangers,” Ms Johnson said.
Jasmina Osman, the business manager and director at Constantia Waldorf School, said they had not noticed any drug-related incidents among pupils.
“We work quite closely with the pupils and parents and we haven’t noticed any drug incidents,” Ms Osman said.
Zeid Baker, the acting principal at South Peninsula High School in Diep River, said principals need to be vigilant.
“We need to be aware of any issues like this and at our schools,” he said. “We need to be on high alert. This is an issue that affects all our communities. No school can actually say they are drug free. At South Peninsula we have a zero tolerance approach.”