Botswana’s drug problem has taken a turn for the worse, after it emerged that local drug users have now started using crack cocaine. In recent years, drug use in Botswana soared to greater heights, and local authorities have never been able to tackle the problem.
Many people have been arrested, charged and imprisoned for possession and sale of drugs, while a lot of Batswana youth have confessed to using drugs.
According to the University of Maryland Centre for Substance Abuse Research website, there is great risk when using any form of cocaine, but crack cocaine is the riskiest form of the substance.
Smoking a substance allows it to reach the brain more quickly than other routes of administration and compulsive cocaine use will develop even more rapidly if the substance is smoked rather than snorted.
Smoking crack cocaine brings an intense and immediate but very short-lived high that lasts about fifteen minutes.
Ecstasy tablets and marijuana were the primary drugs of choice.
However, the emergence of crack cocaine is a major cause for worry. Batswana are getting hooked on Crack, a free base form of cocaine that is smoked and is also known as rock, lethoba or letlapa.
The name crack comes from the sound made when smoking the drug.
Police statistics reveal that the number of cases involving crack and cocaine more than doubled from six in 2009 to fourteen in 2010.
This year, ten arrests have been made, all involving locals between the ages of nineteen and forty-seven.
Information reaching this paper suggests that this drug is gaining popularity by the day with old, young, professionals, artisans, and now even kids as young as fifteen years are said to be experimenting with this drug, which, according to experts, is highly addictive and could get one hooked for life through a single smoking session.
The Deputy Officer Commanding at Diamonds and Narcotics, Superintendent Peloentle Chester Morolong, said in an interview that habit forming drugs such as crack cocaine are on the rise.
He said law enforcers are working round the clock to fight this trend, stating that the latest arrest was made last week when a man was arrested for possession of suspected cocaine in Block 3 in Gaborone. He called for stiffer penalties for perpetrators and urged Batswana to blow the whistle on any suspected drug dealers and users.
Morolong said that most of the perpetrators arrested for possession are mostly Batswana who tell police that they get the drugs from Nigerian dealers in Hillbrow, South Africa.
Drugs don’t come cheap; according to Morolong a single hit of crack costs between P120 and P200, depending on the demand.
“Now you tell me where all these people will get the money to maintain their habits? I won’t give anybody anything for getting that one right; I foresee a rise in violent crimes.”
Random interviews conducted around Gaborone and amongst professionals, friends and colleagues reveal instances of lives lost.
One source revealed how the son of one prominent Chief Executive Officer recently committed suicide because he could not handle his drug debts.
Families have not been spared either.
James Tau is a thirty-year-old freelance graphic designer who says it took him weeks of rehabilitation in a South African centre to kick the habit as he was starting to have financial squabbles with his wife. “When I first started it was fine because when I ran out of money, I would just borrow from a friend or colleague. I never paid back and when people started to get reluctant to give me their money, I graduated to cash loans and that’s when the fights began,” said Tau.
“Come pay day, sometimes I could not even withdraw money as my ATM card would be with the cash loan company and that’s when my wife realised I was spending money behind her back. I confessed and told her about my addiction and together we decided I book myself into a rehabilitation centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.”
Tau said many of his friends are still caught in this deadly web. He claims to know of “quite a few couples, married and some newlyweds, who are having marital problems caused by drugs.
Come month end, families go broke while loan sharks smile all the way to the bank.
The laws of Botswana prohibit the possession or dealing in habit forming drugs and those found guilty face up to 10 years imprisonment, including a fine of P15 000.