An investigative study into the knowledge and perceptions of illicit drug trafficking into and within Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
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Studies have shown that drug traffickers and organised crime syndicates form transnational networks. They source drugs from one continent, traffic them to another and market them on the third. The drug trade is non-discriminant in its location. However, other than occasional media stories or annual police reports, little is known about the drug trade in South Africa, and particularly in Durban, South Africa‟s major port. Though drug abuse seems to be on the rise, gaps remain in knowledge concerning exactly where these drugs come from and how they are distributed. This study specifically addressed the knowledge of and perceptions about illicit drug trafficking in Durban. Theoretically, drugs could be received by air, sea, road or rail. This study was an attempt to establish exactly who brought illicit drugs into and distributed them within Durban, where this happened, and how it was accomplished. The investigation included the implications and the prevailing perceptions of this phenomenon. Additionally, an examination was conducted on the efficacy of existing local and national policy as well as regulatory frameworks dealing with illicit drug trafficking. The study employed a threefold mixed-method methodology, consisting of semi-structured interviews, ethnographic research (i.e., in Chatsworth) and a focus group interview that was conducted in Kharwastan. The interview participants ranged from police officers and the Organised Crime Unit personnel to airport and harbour officials, a drug dealer, an informant, and a pharmacist. The study site was located in Inanda, Chatsworth, Durban Harbour, King Shaka Airport (Cargo terminal), Phoenix, and Pietermaritzburg. A variety of themes were uncovered. The main thematic outcomes were the following: monetary reward is a motivating factor for trafficking in drugs; foreign residents are the main perpetrators of drug trafficking; a lack of proper boarder control in South Africa contributes to drug trafficking; unemployment is a contributing factor; a lack of family values and non-existent or weak parental influences are social and economic contributors to the drug trafficking phenomenon; and policies and legislation on drugs are met with a mixed response. Moreover, several participants spoke strongly of the need for a designated drug unit in South Africa. Due to the ever-changing nature of the drug market, it is vital that interventions be pliable and qualitative in nature. The scarcity of data on illicit drug trafficking in Africa, and particularly in South Africa, stands in the way of societies fully understanding the nature of this crime. Better data will result in better policies.