HomeAfrica-NewsHow a Cape Town suburb sprouted road signs for drug dealers only

How a Cape Town suburb sprouted road signs for drug dealers only


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(Coral Gardiner and Candice-Lee Kannemeyer)

  • Frustrated Capetonians decided to make signs after a drug dealer’s car swerved into a pedestrian, prompting a charge of attempted murder.
  • Police arrested a man with 17 packages of cocaine, but within a week the dealers were back on the streets of Rosebank.
  • The resident decided to address the issue with humor, and most neighbors who responded on social media say the signs are “fantastic.”
  • For more stories, visit www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Road signs that appear to welcome drug dealers have appeared in a middle-class suburb of Cape Town.

But Rosebank residents say the signs are meant to deter, and they appear to be working.

The man who made the signs says he decided to take action after seeing a YouTube video about a similar initiative in Tower Hamlets, London.

Its first sign asks drivers to “yield to approaching drug dealers,” while the second advertises a “cocaine drop zone” that operates from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. .

Aside from one or two tricky responses after putting up the signs in the early hours, the man says the response from his neighbors has been overwhelmingly positive.

Responding to a post in a community group that said, “Whoever you are, please stop, the signs don’t work,” the man says about 25 people wrote: “They’re brilliant, please never stop.”

He was spurred into action by the regular drug deals that took place in the quiet residential streets of Rosebank.

“There were always two vehicles, each with two people inside, and large packages were exchanged,” he says. “This was a wholesale, not a retail sale.”

A cocaine zone sign.

(Coral Gardiner and Candice-Lee Kannemeyer)

Community discontent reached “high point” in early October, he says, when a dealer “flipped the bird” at residents filming him and a vehicle swerved into a pedestrian.

After the resident filed a charge of attempted murder, police mounted a raid in which they arrested a dealer with 17 packages of cocaine and a large amount of cash in his car, the man says. But then there was another deal.

“There were a lot of complaints, but it becomes background noise and doesn’t accomplish much,” the man says. “Using humour, though, is very South African, and I thought it was a way of letting traffickers know: ‘We’re watching you even if the police aren’t.'”

Rosebank resident Coral Gardiner says a “drop off” sign was posted outside her home overnight. “I laughed a lot when I saw it in the morning,” she says. “It’s such a clever way to bring this problem to people’s attention, and whoever is responsible for it is probably fed up with residents looking the other way.”

Gardiner said one of his neighbors tore down the sign. “I was in a bad mood because I had people coming over for lunch,” she says.

Another resident, Candice-Lee Kannemeyer, says dealership cars haven’t been seen this often since the signs began appearing about two weeks ago.

A sign giving way to drug dealers.

(Coral Gardiner and Candice-Lee Kannemeyer)

Most people think they are a “brilliant” way to stop the escalation of drug deals in the area over the past 18 months, she says. “It’s because of our proximity to so many major thoroughfares, such as Durban Road, Klipfontein Road, the M5 and Liesbeek Parkway.

“Obviously, people in the area are thinking about what can be done, and the signs are a last resort for some residents. Other people have said that we should photograph dealer cars and put them on huge billboards.”

From his loft office, Gardiner says he sees drug deals on the street regularly. Kanneyemer says the routine is always the same: A car, either the dealer or the customer, waits at a pre-arranged location, and when the other party arrives, the dealer drives the customer to another location nearby where the swap takes place.

Walking home recently after taking his dog to Rondebosch Common at 4pm, Kannemeyer says he saw a dealer in his car cutting a line of cocaine into a CD case.

“The police are useless and security patrols can’t do much,” he says. “Smugglers just say they’re waiting for a friend, or claim to be Uber drivers.”

The worry, he says, is that a drug deal goes bad and turns violent.

The man who made the signs, who insisted on anonymity because “I don’t want drug dealers to know who I am”, says they cost him about R130 each, and has been asked if he can supply them to other suburbs.

He says his campaign will continue, because “an arrest is like cutting off the head of the Hydra. The unions just send someone else.”

Western Cape police did not respond to questions from Business Insider South Africa about the posters.


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