Road signs which appear to welcome drug dealers have popped up in a middle-class Cape Town suburb.
But residents of Rosebank say the signs are meant to be a deterrent – and they seem to be working.
His first sign asks drivers to “Give way to oncoming drug dealers”, while the second announces a “cocaine dropoff zone” that operates from 11:00 to 15:00 on weekdays.
Apart from one or two truculent responses after he put up the signs in the early hours, the man says the response from his neighbours has been overwhelmingly positive.
In reply to a post on a community group saying, “Whoever you are, please stop, the signs don’t work” the man says about 25 people wrote, “They are brilliant, please never stop.”
He was spurred to action by the regular drug deals taking place in Rosebank’s quiet residential streets.
Rosebank resident Coral Gardiner says a “dropoff” sign was put up outside her house during the night. “I had a good chuckle when I saw it in the morning,” she says. “It’s such a clever way of bringing this issue to people’s attention, and whoever’s responsible is probably fed up of residents looking the other way.”
Another resident, Candice-Lee Kannemeyer, says dealers’ cars have not been seen as frequently since the signs started appearing about two weeks ago.
“Obviously people in the area are thinking about what can be done, and the signs are some resident’s last resort. Other people have said we should photograph the dealers’ cars and put them on huge posters.”
From her loft office, Gardiner says she sees drug deals happening in the street regularly. Kanneyemer says the routine is always the same: a car – either the dealer or the client – waits in a pre-arranged spot, and when the other party arrives the dealer leads the customer to another location nearby where the exchange happens.
“The police are no use, and security patrols can’t do much,” she says. “The dealers just say they’re waiting for a friend, or they claim to be Uber drivers.”
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 (N3,400) each, and he has been asked if he can supply them to other suburbs.
He says his campaign will continue, because “one arrest is like cutting off the head of the Hydra. The syndicates just send someone else.”