New research finds that South Africa is currently facing a growing drug epidemic, with heroin quietly taking over small towns, big cities and even rural areas.
This is according to a new policy brief by the Enact Project, based on research and on-the-ground interviews with drug users and drug dealers across the country.
“The heroin route that crosses South Africa has created a regional heroin economy, with severe social and political repercussions,” the group said.
“To a significant degree, heroin is a key commodity underpinning the criminal economy in South Africa and has facilitated the expansion of the criminal economy by pulling in new players as traffickers, dealers and users.”
Low-income communities have been hardest hit due to a well-orchestrated marketing strategy to make heroin cheaper and penetrate a mass market.
It’s estimated that the annual turnover of the market may be worth about more than R3.6-billion.
Enact said that South Africa needs a comprehensive policy response to the heroin economy. More understanding and research is needed to address the underlying causes of growing heroin use.