Blantyre, January 12, 2019. Blantyre District registered an increase in the number of cases on drug and substance abuse in 2018 compared to 2017, Malawi News Agency (Mana) has established.

Blantyre Police Station Public Relations Officer, Augustus Nkhwazi told Mana that over 72 cases were recorded last year compared to 50 in 2017, representing a 30.5 per cent increase.

Nkhwazi said among other cases, the police dealt with those of cultivation and possession of Indian hemp (Chamba), possession of medical drugs without licence and selling liquor without licence.

“Lack of punitive measures and sentences by the courts has led to the increase in the use of drugs. Most of those that are found in the wrong normally get minimal sentences from the courts which are not deterrent enough,” said Nkhwazi.

However, he assured the public that police would continue putting measures aimed at reducing incidences of drug and substance abuse.

“The police intend to enhance sweeping operations to arrest those found or selling liquor and Chamba. We will also intensify sensitization meetings with stakeholders such as Young Achievers for Development which works towards empowering the youth to stop indulging in drug and substance abuse,” he added.

Executive Director of Drug Fight Malawi, Nelson Zakeyu said lack of clear government policies on drug control is one of the factors leading to the increase of such cases.

“Currently, Malawi does not have the national drug policy and this impedes monitoring and prevention. Absence of the policy also makes organisations like Drug Fight Malawi fail to complement government efforts in dealing with drug and substance abuse,” said Zakeyu.

“Of course, there are laws to control use of drugs and substance abuse in the country but very outdated. We can’t continue to use the laws enacted in the 1970s because they fail to address the current circumstances,” he added.

Zakeyu said the old laws provide loopholes that attract ill-minded foreigners, particularly from West Africa, to play their dirty games in Malawi “freely and willingly.”

Zakeyu claimed that foreigners mostly deal with hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin, noting that locally Chamba and other drugs are highly abused.

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