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Zimbabwean man caught with R12 million smuggled cigarettes in SA

by Staff reporter
29 Jul 2023 at 07:23hrs | Views
A 43-YEAR-OLD Zimbabwean man has been arrested by the North West Provincial Anti-Corruption Investigating Unit (ACIU) in South Africa for allegedly trying to smuggle a contraband of cigarettes worth more than R12 million.

The man, Joseph Kusekwa appeared at the Lehurutshe Magistrates' Court yesterday. His case was postponed to July 27, 2023 for a formal bail application.

National Prosecution Authority (NPA) spokesperson for North West Mr Henry Mamothame said Kusekwa was also an illegal migrant.

He said Kusekwa tried to smuggle the contraband on Friday last week through the Botswana and South African border (Skilpadhek Port of Entry)

"Police reports revealed that the suspect, who is a truck driver, was from Botswana entering South Africa at Skilpadhek Port of Entry at approximately 6.40am during load-shedding. This is the time when trucks entering/leaving the country are not allowed to do so at the Port of entries owing to computers being off-line," said Mr Mamothame.

He said a police officer on patrol along the border, saw the truck leaving the border, driving towards Zeerust. He informed his commander and the truck was stopped before it reached Zeerust. The driver was ordered to drive back to Skilpadhek port of entry where the truck was inspected by the police and customs officials.

"It was discovered that the truck was carrying boxes of cigarettes which the driver failed to declare at customs, valued at about R12,9 million. The driver was immediately arrested and charged with possession of illicit cigarettes," said Mr Mamothame.

He said a police officer who had allowed the truck to leave the border, was being investigated and charges of defeating the ends of justice could be added when the investigations are concluded.

The case has been handed over to the Hawks for further investigations. The suspect will remain in police custody until the next court appearance.

Recently, a 45-year-old Zimbabwean man was jailed for an effective five years in South Africa for smuggling a contraband of cigarettes worth over R300 000.

Oliver Mupanga was sent to prison when he appeared at the Senwabarwana Regional Court where he was convicted. He was sentenced to direct imprisonment for possession of illicit cigarettes and entering South Africa without a valid passport.

The smuggling of cigarettes from Zimbabwe into South Africa through illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River is rife. It is understood that 30 percent of cigarettes in South Africa are from Zimbabwe including Pacific, Remington gold, Mega, Dullahs, Branson and Servilles.

A box of cigarettes is bought at US$120 from local producers and sold for between US$250 and US$300 to the syndicates who then smuggle them into South Africa where they sell for anything above R15 000.

Those that illegally transport the commodity across borders are paid between R100 and R300 per box and in most cases this is done under the cover of darkness.

Source - The Chronicle