Cigarettes worth thousands confiscated

More than 1 200 cartons of Chelsea English Blend cigarettes were found by the police after they stopped and searched a suspicious-looking Ford Ranger.

The Waterberg District’s Flying Squad was patrolling the N1 highway between Polokwane and Mokopane just after 09:00 on Friday 12 May when they stopped the vehicle, said provincial police spokesperson Col. Malesela Ledwaba.

The driver was a 44-year-old woman who was arrested for possession of illicit cigarettes. The estimated value of the cigarettes is R240 000, according to the police. The suspect will appear in the Mokopane Magistrates Court.

British American Tobacco South Africa (Batsa) said in a statement in August last year that they estimate that the illicit cigarette trade in the previous year comprised 70% of the local market. Other independent researchers judged it to be just over half of the market. The ban on smoking during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown is thought to have boosted this illegal market.

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