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NARCOTICS AND THE LAW IN SOUTH AFRICA

Article by listed attorney: Fawzia Khan

As the scourge of illegal drugs and other narcotics continues to plague our societies, the youth remain vulnerable targets for unscrupulous drug dealers. Empowering the youth with information is key to ensuring that they do not become victims of drug abuse. Drug addiction in all forms, whether it is illegal drugs or prescription medications or alcohol addiction, cuts across all sectors of society. It’s not restricted to a particular race, gender, colour, or social class or even religion. 

Over the years in my practice as an attorney I have seen a significant number of cases where marriages have broken down and families torn apart because of the drug or alcohol addiction of one or sometimes even both spouses.  Sadly the number of (mostly younger) couples who have fallen prey to drug addiction has been steadily rising and alarmingly, continues to climb. Many of these drug users insist that they are not addicted to the drugs and that taking these so called ‘recreation’ drugs such as ecstasy tablets, ‘coke’, ‘cat’ or dagga, is really harmless fun. They try to justify it’s use by claiming it’s a way to relieve work pressure. Taking illegal drugs or other such substances means that you are breaking the law. Being convicted of a drug offence will result in a criminal record for life.

Should the police find you in possession of illegal drugs, the law is unlikely to show you much mercy. If you are arrested, the investigating officer will take you into custody and you will be held in the police cells until you are charged or bail is granted to you. The police can keep you in custody for up to 48 hours before charging you. If a group of people are found in possession of drugs, a charge of ‘joint possession’ could be made and all people in the group would face criminal charges. If you unfortunate enough to be arrested over the weekend, expect to remain incarcerated in the cells until Monday morning, before a bail application can be considered.  There’s no guarantee that the State will not oppose the granting of bail or even ask the court to adjourn the matter to allow them more time to investigate the bail application. If the quantity of drugs is sufficiently high, you could also face a charge of ‘dealing’ in drugs, which carries an even higher penalty. Depending on what amount of drugs found in your possession will determine what type of conviction you would face.

Know your rights! The Law Desk of Fawzia Khan & Associates. We Know! We Care! We Deliver! Email fawzia@thelawdesk.co.za or call 031-5025670 for legal assistance.