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Speaker notes by the Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele at the Interpol 2nd Global Drugs and Illicit Substances Trafficking Conference, held in Cape Town
2019/09/17

WESTERN CAPE; 17 SEPTEMBER 2019

Programme Director;
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Pandor
Minister of State Security Agency, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo;
MECs present;
The President of INTERPOL, Mr Kim Jong Yang
National Commissioner of SAPS, General KJ Sithole;
All SARPCCO Police Chiefs;
Top Management of the SAPS;
Representatives from all INTERPOL member countries
Top Management of the SAPS;
Esteemed Delegates;
Ladies and Gentleman;

It gives me honour and utmost humility to ascend this podium this morning to address this august conference, on such an imperative subject of international importance and one that resonates with even a bigger audience outside the accredited delegates of this conference.

Ladies and gentlemen, drugs are a menace to society, drugs are a loud killer, drugs are destroying economically viable youth and those in the tender age of life, drugs are a biggest contributor to violent crimes, drugs are a modern day world engulfing flood; hence this gathering hosted on the African soil is crucial in developing world standard solutions, under the banner of the umbrella theme which says “Pushing New frontiers for effective Global drug enforcement.”

My understanding of this theme is that we have to go where we have never been before, in order to realise our goals. South Africa Hosting the 2nd Interpol Global conference on Drugs and illicit substances gives me, as the Police Minister of South Africa HOPE, that there is a global force gathered on our shores to better understand the current and emerging global drug threats. The presence of 193 INTERPOL member countries gathered here, will leave this gathering more equipped to act and enforce the law in the fight against the scourge of drugs.

Esteemed Delegates allow me to take this opportunity and extend a word of gratitude to the President of INTERPOL Mr Kim Jong Yang of South Korea for his attendance to this important meeting. I was fortunate to be part of The INTERPOL Annual General Meeting in Dubai last year November that officially elected the INTERPOL President.

In your acceptance speech President, you spoke so profoundly about the direction in which the fight against transnational crimes should take, and not be overtaken by the criminal underworld syndicates. Furthermore, during the AGM the importance of the maximum utilization of INTERPOL database and systems was emphasized in order to break the backbone of drug trafficking, human trafficking and other sophisticated transnational crimes. Mr President once again, we would like to thank you for your progressive and exemplary leadership of this gigantic organisation of international policing.

Distinguished delegates, we trust that this conference will find solutions that the world is waiting for in dealing with the overwhelming challenge of drugs. The recent acts of violence in South Africa which was widely covered in the international media platforms was very unfortunate and is regrettable. However the subject of drugs and illicit activities must be singled out of that debate and be dealt with decisively and INTERPOL must take a lead in that space and ensure that every INTERPOL member countries are protected from drug smuggling no matter who is involved, be it locals or nationals from other countries; Crime knows no nationality, CRIME IS CRIME.

Our communities are at the grip of those who use drugs, those who sell drugs and those who produce drugs. Drug abuse is wiping away the moral and social fibre of our society each day. Drug abuse is cutting the lives of our youths short and stagnating their contribution to the economy. Our Communities have had enough, the whole World has reached a climax point of ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

While we know that drugs are a global challenge that cannot be fought by law enforcement alone, for a drug free society that we want to live in, it is clear that every citizen in the world has a role to play and be part of the solution. But we as the men and women of the law, our “New frontier" is to be a step ahead of syndicates and drug cartels.

Whether it is by land, air, sea or the World Wide Web, there are new and innovative ways of concealing narcotics by trans-national organised crime and their methods are constantly evolving and providing challenges to law enforcements.

We as the South African Police Service and all its specialised units, are raising our hand to work in collaboration with our global counterparts. I call on international cooperation by all Interpol member countries to share resources and information for a more proactive approach in the war against drugs.

I look forward to fruitful discussions on emerging forms of cybercrime and how virtual currencies are being used to trade and traffic illicit substances. This conference will also have deep engagements on how criminals are using the ‘dark web markets’ to anonymously and illegally buy and sell drugs and contrabands.

In conclusion, the vulnerability of South Africa to illicit drugs remains a grave concern. The increasing number of foreign drugs seized within our shores and at our ports of entry, clearly shows that the country’s role is that of a consumer market and also a pathway for national, regional and international trafficking networks.

The illegal flow of narcotics brings with it other forms of organised crime that undermines the stability and security of the country. It is through reaching “New Frontiers” that we as Interpol member countries must at this conference strengthen not only our relations but our resolve to once and for all dismantle the illegal drug networks world-wide.

I end my address with a quote by Sir John Templeton, an American-born British investor who once said… "The person who is willing to say yes to experience is the person who discovers new frontiers." - John Templeton

We as South Africa are saying Yes, yes to the fight against the scourge of drug abuse and illicit substance trade.

 I thank you.