If dagga is decriminalised, R3.5-billion could be invested annually in serious crimes.  It may take some of the pressure off the clogged-up court system, an overburdened police force, severely overcrowded prisons

By Ruth Hopkins , in Mail and Guardian

On a sweltering summer evening in downtown Johannesburg, Larry lit up a joint. The previous day, he had experienced an attempted smash-and-grab and his nerves were still frayed.

Larry, who isn’t using his given name, was passing around a joint in his friend’s car when he saw two men approach. Their determined stride made him fear another smash-and-grab was about to happen and he froze. But the men were undercover police officers who had noticed the fragrant wafts of smoke escaping from the car windows.

It all happened quickly. The police officers dragged the two friends out of the car and told them they were under arrest. They were taken to the police station, where they were fingerprinted and locked up in a communal cell. The cell was filthy, the toilet broken, the floor covered in sewage. Police officers, one of whom seemed drunk, threw smelly, damp blankets at them and the doors banged shut.

This story was first published by the Wits Justice Project, a Wits Journalism project.  Please click on the following link to read the full article: Police time and money go to pot