The sale of illicit drugs, alcohol and sex is still rife in parts of Durban.
Underground bootlegging of alcohol and narcotic sales in and around Durban have spiked slightly because drug users have panicked during the lockdown as added pressures have prevented them from getting drugs easily, according to Walter Petersen, Durban director of the SA National Council on Alcoholism (Sanca).
Petersen said people had found it difficult to access cigarettes during the lockdown, but that drugs were still accessible in most areas.
Some people around the city had resorted to making home brews, which did not follow proper safety standards and posed a threat to those who consumed them.
Alcohol abuse and imposed close contact with those in the home could also increase tensions and result in domestic violence, Petersen said.
Sanca had remained closed, but had received about 50 requests for rehabilitation, showing the severity of alcohol and drug use, especially in a time where getting these items was strictly prohibited, Petersen said.
“If you look at Durban, drug use has always fuelled the crime rate. In fact, many crimes – not all, but a large portion of the crimes – are often committed by people who use drugs, be it theft, murder or petty crimes,” Petersen said.
Morningside continued to experience petty crimes and house and business break-ins during the lockdown, said Lower Morningside Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairperson, Gary Manthe.
While level 4 lockdown was enforced yesterday, he said sex workers, who continued to work out of local drug dens, still made rounds in the area.
“There’s not a lot of movement, but there is still some movement around the area. There’s a lot of sex workers and drug users along Percy Osborne and Adrian roads,” Manthe said.
He said police patrolled the area, but criminal activities were "mysteriously" halted by the time reports went out.
“We need a strong metro police presence here. Obviously, metro police and SAPS have been busy in the area rounding up the vagrants in the Lower Morningside area, but metro police ought to step that up because of the by-laws of the city,” the CPF chairperson said.
While some areas in the metro had continued to succumb to criminal activity, all categories of crime across eThekwini had shown drastic reductions because of the imposed lockdown and the restrictions regarding the sale of alcohol, said SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker.
Despite there being a decrease in violent crimes such as hijackings and armed robbery in Westville during the lockdown, petty crimes and house break-ins in the area had still occurred, said Asad Patel, Westville CPF chairperson.
“We’ve still had a huge amount of house break-ins and burglaries in Westville. During the first 10 days of lockdown, we experienced about 36 incidents of crime,” Patel said.
Patel said the neighbourhood watch and CPF programmes to eradicate crime had been halted because of the lockdown regulations.
“We’ve had to rely on metro police and also the security companies in the area,” said Patel.
He said Westville had prepared for the “worst-case scenario” in terms of crime. High crime levels were expected post-lockdown because some who were destitute and unemployed would seek new “streams of income”.