DRUG WAR Kadavu islanders take on the challenge to eradicate marijuana

By LOSALINI RASOQOSOQO After my first visit to Kadavu, I returned three weeks later. Kadavu was my home for two weeks and this time, I was able to go deeper
11 Mar 2012 12:37


Kadavu islanders help police uproot a number of marijuana plants found in one of many farms

After my first visit to Kadavu, I returned three weeks later. Kadavu was my home for two weeks and this time, I was able to go deeper into the issue. It is a serious issue worth highlighting given the immediate effects it has to individuals and the community as a whole. I arrived early to await the arrival of the Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Ioane Naivalurua, and his team – eager to find out his decision and how he was going to handle the matter.

End effect of drugs
Marijuana brings about quick and easy money. That is the whole reason, they say, behind their involvement.
Just within four months, you are to harvest at least a thousand dollars worth of cultivated drugs.
While it buys the drug dealers a glamorous lifestyle, they fail to realise the real, or rather the long-term impact that the illegal activity will have on their lives, their families and the society.
While many users enjoy smoking ‘pot’, they fail to realise the effect it will have on their children.
My heart goes out to two innocent children who are affected because their parents smoke ‘pot’.
It has stopped their growth and they suffer many health problems.
I later joined a few adults who have become mentally retarded, at a number of kava sessions on the island.
This is the effect of smoking excessive ‘pot’ and we have seen many who probably have similar symptoms who roam the streets in our major cities and towns.
Most have splashed money their parents spend on their education, ruining their future.
Information received from the psychiatric hospital reveals that the youngest to be affected by drugs is a 12-year-old.
For those who have been caught by the law, they leave behind their wives and children. A village in Kadavu where a number of arrests were first made lost about 80 per cent of their men.  Apart from losing their husbands, fathers or sons they also lost their belongings which have been possessed by the police. It is a sad sight to see their homes being dismantled because they were bought with money earned from the sale of marijuana. If they had lived their lives the honest way none of this would have happened.
Even marijuana is causing disharmony in the community. I was told that a fight broke out in a village after a man was caught trying to steal marijuana from a farm.
Village elders have also revealed how traditional protocols have been broken and taken advantage of by drug lords who usually consume alcohol in the village.

The fight
Seeing the devastating effect the drug has, it’s a wonder why the vanua of Kadavu is keen to stand up and fight it. Joining the fight are the civil servants who have formed a taskforce against the drug.
Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Naivalurua describes marijuana as a type of cancer that is spreading so fast on the island.
All chiefs of the nine districts of Kadavu have signed a declaration giving their full support the police and Government, declaring a war against the drug. Villagers of Drue and chiefs of the 75 villages on the island pledged they would report to the authorities anyone found cultivating marijuana.
Tui Tavuki Ratu Joni Duikete made a special request to  Commissioner Naivalurua for the operation to continue on the remaining islands.
Only 16 villages have been covered so far. Visiting the island to find a solution to this sickness, the Commissioner says they are committed to weed out marijuana from the island.
He visited villages and schools to raise the awareness on the negative impacts of marijuana. He did not speak only in his capacity as a police officer or Commissioner; he spoke and gave advice also as a father. He made it clear that there was no place for marijuana on the island or anywhere else in Fiji.
Operation Cavuraki
It was not an easy task for the cops who left their families behind and the comfort of their homes for months in their bid to crack down on marijuana.
Despite of the lack of sleep, or proper meals, uncomfortable nights and their loneliness, they had one focus – to uplift the image of the force and the Government – while they battle in the drug war.  Their individual effort and sacrifice had paid out resulting in the several arrests made so far.
They have worked on the ground, they have learned and known first-hand about the many negative impacts of the drug. They have handled various situations many times, but regardless of the kind of environment they run into, working in the best interest of the people and the nation was the driving force.


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