“Nigerians are drug dealers. They come to our country to sell drugs. ” – Average South African
This and many other statements have been used by South Africans to describe Nigerians and the activities of Nigerians in South Africa. They think that Nigerians in South Africa are drug dealers. This label has made being Nigerian in South Africa painful. It has even caused xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.
But is it true that Nigerians in South Africa are drug dealers?
The truth is that Nigerians in South Africa are not drug dealers. However, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Sadly, there is a significant number of Nigerians in South Africa who are involved in the drug trade in South Africa. These Nigerians consistently confirm the stereotype by engaging in heinous drug-related crimes. Let’s take the recent arrest of a 32 year-old alleged Nigerian drug dealer [Chikudipia Steven Nwose* (sic)] as an example. According to media reports, the alleged Nigerian drug dealer was arrested by undercover agents in Chatsworth, Durban. He was reportedly trading in Flakka, a synthetic hard drug several times more lethal than heroine and cocaine. This drug is also known as Zombie. This is said to be the first reported case of Flakka in South Africa.
The Zombie apocalypse
Times Lives reported that:
Members of the Metro Police Rapid Response Unit confirmed that doctors found battery acid, gunpowder, chlorine, a date rape drug, strong pain medication, cocaine and bath salts, which is not the regular bathing salts but a drug which is chemically similar to stimulant chemicals like cocaine or amphetamines as composition elements of Flakka.
These drug dealing and drug-related crimes are an embarrassment to all Nigerians and a source of pain for South Africa. Issues around this topic indicates a need for dialogue among members of the Nigerian community in South Africa. We need to start dealing with drug dealing issues associated with Nigerians in South Africa.
We cannot deny that there are Nigerians in South Africa (both young and old) selling drugs in the streets. Long Street in Kempton Park (Gauteng Province) is an example of a free-for-all open drug market. The drug dealing in this area happens in full glare of the public (and police). It is a disgusting sight to behold.
The irony is that a growing number of Nigerian drug dealers are homeless, sick and addicted to drugs.
We need to face reality. Denial is not the way to go.
I have been shocked to discover that there are Nigerians who are in denial about the existence of Nigerian criminal gangs in South Africa. The truth is that we have a serious drug problem among Nigerians. We need to stop contesting the reality of drug-related crimes so that we can start dealing with the problems head on as a community in South Africa.
It will be beneficial to strengthen efforts to discourage drug trade and drug abuse. There’s need to enhance existing anti-drug programs by Nigerian organisations in South Africa. We need to create more aggressive campaigns that will expose both the ills of drug dealing and drug abuse.
The media and our duty
Yes, the South African media has been complicit in a number of negative media campaigns against Nigerians. In my opinion, it is our responsibility as a community to expose the perceived lies of the media. It is our duty to make sure we tell the untold stories of Nigerians fighting against drug dealing. We need to challenge the status quo by bringing new facts to the table. Umbrella bodies of Nigerians in South Africa and the Nigerian Embassy must take interest in published stories. They must investigate, meet with alleged Nigerian perpetrators and let the world know where and how the local media misrepresent the narrative.
Change of perspective
Asides public enlightenment and rehabilitation, I have no other solution in sight for curbing this menace. My humble plea to the Nigerian community is to start viewing the issue of illicit drug trade by Nigerians as a crisis. It is a grave problem to our host community and a stain to our national identity.
A change of perspective may birth the desired solution. There is a need for intellectual dialogue among Nigerians to profer solutions. Yes, Nigerians are not the only foreign nationalities dealing in drugs in South Africa but Nigerians can definitely choose not to be part of criminal activities.
*Most probably Chukudifu Steven Nwosu
Very interesting. To be effective, the envisaged dialogue should include South Africans so that as hosts, they ventilate their experiences and views and be able to support the restoration efforts. A frank discussion is indeed necessary.
— Emmanuel Chauke (@Mhlengwe_E) December 28, 2017