South African Anti-Drug Chief in Meth Arrest

By McCarton Ackerman 02/09/12

The top drug official was caught with meth and a glass pipe last June—but kept it secret until now.

McNamara puts a grave face on it. Photo via

The chief director for social welfare services in South Africa's Western Cape—whose responsibilities include targeting drug abuse in the region—was charged with drug possession eight months ago, but it's only just been revealed by the South African press this week. Veteran official Dave McNamara, who's often been quoted on drug issues by the media, was arrested last June when he was caught at a city park with "tik" and a "tik lolly"—South African nicknames for crystal meth and a glass pipe. It took months for a tabloid newspaper to get hold of the case number and start asking police questions. Social Development minister Albert Fritz claims he only found out about McNamara's arrest this week too; but not everyone is convinced. "It is unclear how he could have been kept in the dark so long on such a serious matter," says African National Congress social development spokeswoman Zodwa Mgwaza. “The MEC and the DA should now show it takes drug fighting seriously...and set clear future guidelines to deal with such occurrences.” McNamara denies ever having been a drug user and says he tested negative after his arrest. He also claims that the drug paraphernalia didn't belong to him, although he admits to an "error of judgement" in failing to tell his employers of his arrest. He's been placed on leave for seven days while his position is considered, and is expected back in court in April.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.