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Zimbabwean man jailed in South Africa

by Staff reporter
09 Nov 2022 at 00:10hrs | Views
A 33-YEAR-OLD Zimbabwean man has been fined R20 000 or five years' imprisonment by a South African magistrates court on charges of diverting a truck carrying a consignment of tobacco worth R3,5 million into the neighbouring country.

Spencer Shoko was busted by the South African Police's Flying Squad while offloading the contraband at a warehouse in Benoni, Johannesburg.

He was convicted on his own plea of guilty to the charges by a Benoni magistrate.

Ms Lumka Mahanjana from the National Prosecuting Authority in Pretoria, said both the truck and the contraband were forfeited to the State.

"The Benoni Magistrates Court has sentenced a Zimbabwean truck driver Spencer Shoko to five years' imprisonment or a fine of R20 000. This follows his conviction for diversion of goods worth over R3.5 million," she said.

"The truck and trailer worth over R2.5 million were forfeited to the state as well as the tobacco."
Ms Mahanjana said Shoko was arrested on October 25, by the Flying Squad Unit of the South African Police Service for delivering raw tobacco which was in transit in Benoni.

According to South African Revenue Services regulations, the raw tobacco will be kept at a customs warehouse in Pretoria until customs duties of more than R500 000 is paid.

"Advocate Tumelo Mokoena asked the court to impose a sentence of five years or a fine of triple the value of the goods. However, the magistrate noted that Shoko was the driver of the truck earning US$400 and is a breadwinner, therefore the sentence given was appropriate," said Ms Mahanjana.

She said charges against a South African national Ishmael Bhamjee (37), who was at the warehouse where the raw tobacco was delivered, were provisionally withdrawn after Shoko took responsibility for the offence.

South Africa has become one of the major destinations and conduits where mostly cigarettes are smuggled through Beitbridge Border Post or illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River.

About 30 percent of cigarettes in South Africa are from Zimbabwe and most of these include Pacific, Remington Gold, Mega, Dullahs, Branson, and Servilles brands.

South Africa's tax watchdog, Tax Justice SA (TJSA) has since accused cigarette manufacturers in the neighbouring country of paying lip service to tax laws following a surge in tobacco smuggling.

The demand for Zimbabwe's tobacco and related products by other countries has seen the establishment of organised syndicates who facilitate the illegal trade and smuggling of the gold leaf into various countries.

It is also difficult for Zimbabweans to export cigarettes to South Africa because of the high excise duty rates on tobacco and cigarettes.

Source - The Chronicle