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13. März 2013

Statement by Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo of the Republic of South Africa, 56th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs


13 MARCH 2013


My delegation congratulates you and the members of the Bureau on your election to preside over this session. We extend our appreciation to the Secretariat for the hard work in preparation for the documentation. Please be assured of our support.

South Africa associates itself with the statement made by the delegation of Egypt on behalf of the African Group and the statement delivered by the delegation of Sudan for the Group of 77 + China.


My delegation takes note of the report of the World Drug Situation with regard to drug abuse (E/CN.7/2013/2), and wish to make special reference to the findings of the Secretariat regarding the use of cannabis as well as the use of amphetamine type  stimulant.

My delegation is concerned that according to the report, the use of cannabis in Africa is much higher than the global average. Cannabis remains the most commonly used drug especially amongst the young people. In this regard, we note from the report the use of cannabis seeds for illicit cultivation which highlight amongst others, the recent developments in the cannabis market. My delegation supports the Secretariat's recommendation that in order to better understand the effects of the developments in the cannabis market more detailed data would still need to be collected.

South Africa has also taken note of the recommendation made at the 22nd meeting of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies for Africa held in Ghana in June 2012, calling for African states to consider alternative development strategies that invest in the infrastructure and equipment needed to support the social and human development of rural populations, whose livelihood is dependent on the cannabis plant. To successfully implement this important recommendation African States would need to partner with the international community.


Other than cannabis, the most prevalent drugs affecting South Africa are methaqualone, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine (commonly known as tik), and heroin. Heroin is also gaining popularity in my country as it is adulterated with cannabis and other drug substances. The heroin concoction, commonly known as Nyaope in South Africa is addictive and has devastating effects on consumers. Vulnerable and delinquent youths are mostly the victims to these substances.

As part of the strategy to counter the illicit drug trade, the South African Government through the South African Police Service, in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and stakeholders, succeeded in the following measures in 2012:

(a)    Detected 9 hydroponic cannabis production sites.

(b)   Prevented the diversion of precursor chemicals and laboratory equipments used to manufacture illicit drugs through its Chemical Monitoring Programme (CMP), in partnership with the chemical industry. The programme dealt with a total of 371 end user check enquiries for importation of precursor chemicals and 1602 expert checks.

(c)    Declined 5 shipments of ephedrine due to tales company or address details.

Over the last two years, a total of 1156 suspects were arrested on drug-related charges and drugs with an estimated street value of R500 million (approximately EUR42 million) were seized at South African border posts and major international airports. We also in the last three years dismantled 101 synthetic drug production facilities. Of the 101 facilities, 39 were dismantled in 2012.


My Government has established an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Combating Substance Abuse. We continue annually to raise awareness on the dangers associated with substance abuse, mobilizing communities to participate and support the work of Government. The Inter-Ministerial Committee developed an Anti-Substance Programme of Action in response to the 2nd Biennial Anti-Substance Abuse Summit. The Anti-Substance Programme of Action is a five-year integrated plan that seeks to address the challenges of substance abuse. Some of the policy considerations under discussion include:

(a)               increasing minimum age to access and purchase alcohol from 18 to 21 years;

(b)               Control of marketing of alcoholic beverages;

(c)                Review od rink and driving laws;

(d)               Raising exercise duties on alcohol products, and finally

(e)               Regulating the registration, hours of sale and location of liquor outlets

It is also for these reasons that our Government has prioritized immediate and existing threat to drug abuse towards South Africans. This led to the adoption of measures and programmes which include amongst others, the promulgation of necessary legislation such as the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, No 70 of 2008 to clearly define prevention and treatment strategies, the revised National Drug Master Plan 2013ß2017; Ke Moja Drug Awareness programme and others.

While the objective of Ke Moja Drug Awareness Programme is to educate, create awareness and provide youth with skills to deal with substance abuse and related social ills challenges, the revised National Drug Master Plan provides a strategic framework and sets out priorities for government in fighting the scourge of substance abuse. The Plan is based on the balanced approach of demand, supply and harm reduction policy interventions. In addition, the Plan focuses more on the delivery of interventions that are informed by best practices and are also evidence-based.


South Africa notes with concern the continuation of non-submission of annual report questionnaires on illicit drug use b some regions as highlighted in the report of the Secretariat on world drugs trends. It should be noed that availability of drug information systems and drug observations would contribute to monitoring the current an emerging trends in the illicit drug use as well as assist with the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based responses to counter the illicit demand for drugs. My delegation therefore appeals to Member States to continue to provide the UNODC with information in this regard. UNODC is also requested to continue to provide technical assistance upon request by affected Member States.


In conclusion, South Africa remains firmly committed to reducing the prevalence of drug use among the population and to reduce the adverse social and health consequences caused by the use of illicit drugs. We are also committed in working with other regions and international community to properly coordinate and collaborate efforts in the prevention and countering of illicit drug production and trafficking.

It should be noted, however, that in order to combat drug trafficking and abuse it is important to address the root causes and also strengthen families and their welfare.

I thank you.



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