Simon Howell, Shaun Shelly, Ashley Potts, Major-General Jeremy Vearey and a representative of PAGAD

There is a growing opinion in South Africa that valuable resources are being wasted on the ‘war on drugs’. This approach criminalises the end users as an ‘addicts’ and condemns them as outcasts, making it difficult to seek help. It has also contributed very little to end the violence that results from gang warfare over drug turf. An international lobby for the ‘harm reduction approach’ is gaining ground. Proponents of this approach have called for the decriminalisation and/or legalisation of, if not all drugs, then cannabis for recreational and medicinal use.

The question that many are asking is what impact the decriminalisation and/or legalisation of drugs will have on the power of gangs, and those communities most affected by gang violence. Will it undermine the established gang culture and the illegal drug economy that gangs uphold? We invite you to participate in the discussion.



  1. Finding alternatives: reducing the harms of gangsterism Simon Howell, Centre for Criminology, UCT
  2. Policy to person: the real-life impact of drug policy in our communities Shaun Shelly, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, UCT
  3. ‘The grassroots impact of a pointless war’: The impact of policy on the recovery process
  4. Ashley Potts, Director: Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre
  5. Decriminalisation: rethinking policing on the Cape Flats   Major-General Jeremy Vearey, Cape Town Cluster Commander, SAPS, Head of police anti-gang unit, Western Cape
  6. The PAGAD viewpoint


Date:  7–Friday 11 August
Time:  5.00 pm
COURSE FEES:  Full: R480.00  Staff: R240.00  Reduced: R120.00