Durban – Seven o’ clock in the morning and bleary-eyed drug addicts are filing into an old poultry farm in Rucklen Street, Phoenix, for their first hit of the day.
Most businesses are closed at this time, but business was booming at the notorious 24-hour “Barnyard” drug den, when a team from the Daily News staked out the area for two days this week.
Drug dealers openly plied their trade, while addicts milled around and took their drugs near a stream in a culvert not far from the Phoenix Highway.
Residents say the Barnyard has been at the heart of the Phoenix drug trade for several years. Hundreds of straws of a drug known as sugars – a cheap concoction containing heroin – are sold blatantly over the counter from two shacks.
The addicts have built makeshift homes from plastic and cardboard behind the boundary walls of the drug den, which is sandwiched between Rucklen Place and Triplen Circle.
They sit on crates or on the floor in the Barnyard and its vicinity, in their shelters and under the trees while getting their fix. The Daily News saw addicts sleeping on the river banks after passing out.
Parked alongside the Phoenix Highway, the Daily News observed the Barnyard and its customers go about their business with impunity this week.
According to police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala, Phoenix police conduct regular raids on the known drug den.
On Monday, however, the Daily News witnessed first-hand the police’s approach to the drug den.
Four plain-clothed policemen arrived in an unmarked vehicle at about 9am. Upon seeing the policemen get out the car, addicts fled in different directions.
The alleged drug lord who operates the Barnyard met the police officers outside and spoke with them for a few minutes. The officers did not go inside the Barnyard, and did not conduct any searches.
Minutes after the officers left, more than 50 addicts returned and the rigorous trade resumed.
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