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Eswatini gripped by Cocaine pandemic

Phephile Motau

Eswatini finds itself amid a Cocaine drug usage surge with at least 14 000 emaSwati said to be addicted to the white powder.

This is according to the ‘The Powder Storm, The Cocaine Markets of East and Southern Africa’ report released this month by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime. The purpose of the report was to explore the current retail markets for Cocaine across several countries in East and Southern Africa. This was achieved by analysing Cocaine availability, retail pricing, and distribution systems for domestic markets.

The analytical summary of cocaine markets in the report is drawn from a series of fieldwork exercises across 16 countries in this region. Data contributing to the analysis includes the identification of specific domestic retail market price points for Cocaine; interviews to uncover details of domestic use, distribution systems, and structures; and discussions with market participants of the common structural characteristics across the region that enable and sustain these markets.

The report states that apart from Cannabis, the drug most commonly used in the Eswatini drug market is Cocaine, both in its powder and Crack form. A gram of powder cocaine ranged in price from a low of E250 (€14) to a high of E600 (€32). The price for crack cocaine saw a multitude of price points ranging from E250 for a ‘slop’ of 0.5g, which is mostly consumed by injection, to a larger ‘full moon’ that weighs 1.5g, costing E1 500 (€81) which is smoked and sniffed, according to the report.

It was stated that the national retail price per gram of powder Cocaine was estimated at E500 (€27), and that Crack Cocaine was estimated at E1 000 (€54).

Most Cocaine was smoked or snorted nasally, according to the research. Cocaine injections were done primarily with Crack, most notably in and around Nhlangano. The population size and use analysis
concluded that in 2020, there were an estimated 14 474 people who used Cocaine (Crack or powder) in Eswatini, and they consumed approximately 3.3 metric tonnes of Cocaine.

The median volume of Cocaine ingested by a regular user per day was estimated to be 1.5 g for those who used powder Cocaine, and two grams for those who used Crack Cocaine. The report further states that the importation of Cocaine into Eswatini was controlled by a small number of high-level importers, most of whom also deal in the importation and distribution of Heroin.

“Unsurprisingly, the capital of Mbabane is a central node for the importation and distribution of the drug in the country. Cocaine is imported overland through the country’s border crossings with South Africa and Mozambique,” the report states.

It was further revealed that from Mozambique, the Cocaine originated from shipments offloaded along the Pemba to Nacala coastline, as well as through Maputo International Airport. From South Africa, the Cocaine is drawn from larger shipments arriving at Durban’s port for onward distribution to regional and international markets.

“Cocaine that is imported to Eswatini appears to be intended almost completely for local consumption. The country has a large domestic Cocaine-using population, relative to its size. Interviews failed to identify any onward movement of Cocaine through the international airport in Mbabane, although a transit flow from Mozambique through Eswatini to South Africa is likely but is an as-yet-undetected scenario,” the report concludes.

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