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SAPS arrest 4 Zimbabwe men with R313,000 smuggled cigarettes

by Staff reporter
22 Jan 2024 at 19:10hrs | Views
South African authorities have arrested four Zimbabweans aged between 25 and 45, in the Modjadjiskloof police area, for possession of suspected smuggled cigarettes worth R313 050 as they clamp down on illegal tobacco trade in that country.

The quartet was also charged with offering a bribe to the arresting police details.

Kudzai Mungate (40), Eshley Matsorera (45), Oscar Mbazo (25) and Tatenda Samasuku (30) appeared at the Modjadjiskloof Magistrate's Court, on Thursday, and the matter was postponed to January 23, for formal bail application.

Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Malasela Ledwaba said the police were firm on the ground dismantling illegal tobacco dealing syndicates.

"Their arrest came after; the police were tipped off about a white Ford Ranger traveling from Kgapane to Tzaneen. An operation was quickly activated along R36 Politsi road," he said.

Col Ledwaba said the described vehicle was spotted and tactically approached.

Upon searching it, he said the police found 2087 cartons of illicit cigarettes worth R313 050.

The suspects were in turn arrested.

"While at the scene, a Toyota Hilux, with the driver and passenger, stopped. They then offered the police a R5 000 bribe to release the two suspects found in possession of illicit cigarettes. They were also arrested for bribery," he added.

The demand for Zimbabwe's tobacco and related products by other countries has seen the establishment of well-orchestrated syndicates that 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 in that country (on tobacco or cigarettes).

Cigarettes into the neighbouring country are imported from Zimbabwe at a rate of R6.21 per 10 cigarettes.

A few weeks ago the North Gauteng High Court dismissed an application by 11 tobacco companies in South Africa who were challenging the mandatory installation of Close Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) at their warehouse.

The move is part of a host of measures authorities are employing to fight against cigarette smuggling between the neighbouring country and Zimbabwe.

Ideally, these closed-circuit televisions, which are also known as video surveillance, use video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors.

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.

It is understood that 30 percent of cigarettes in South Africa are from Zimbabwe including Pacific, Remington Gold, Mega, Dullahs, Branson, and Servilles.

Source - The Herald