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By Shanice Naidoo

Digital Journalist

Man bust with illicit cigarettes gets 2 years behind bars or R300k fine

The police in Limpopo apprehended suspect after discovering his vehicle loaded with illicit cigarettes valued at R416,070. 

In a breakthrough against the escalating illicit cigarette trade in Limpopo, the Polokwane Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday handed down a conviction and sentence to Max Chingachirere, a 48-year-old Zimbabwean. 

Chingachirere was arrested on 22 September in Roedtan, Waterberg District, when police discovered his vehicle loaded with illicit cigarettes valued at R416,070. The case was transferred to the Provincial Organised Unit for an in-depth investigation.

After multiple court appearances, Chingachirere was convicted and sentenced to a fine of R300,000 or two years imprisonment for possession of illicit cigarettes. Additionally, he was given a fine of R5,000 or six months imprisonment for violating the Immigration Act.

Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe told The Citizen illicit cigarette trade is widespread in the province.

READ ALSO: Illicit cigarettes worth R200 000 seized in Limpopo


“We welcome the sentences handed down and commend all the role players for the excellent work [they did in putting up] a watertight case before the court,” Hadebe added.

Meanwhile, police arrested two men, aged 34 and 59, for having illicit cigarettes in Giyani, Limpopo, on 22 November. The arrest was made possible after the provincial Vispol Task Team received information about the storage of illicit cigarettes.

READ ALSO: Illicit tobacco trade thrives: is it government’s fault?

431 boxes found

“The information led to the arrest of the two suspects in possession of 431 boxes of illicit cigarettes with an estimated street value of R200 000. Some of the cigarettes were recovered at one of the suspect’s apartments.

“Police also seized an undisclosed amount of money believed to be proceeds from the illicit cigarette trade,” said police spokesperson Brigadier Hlulani Mashaba.

Another 700 boxes of cigarettes found

Police in Westenburg, near Polokwane, arrested a 34-year-old suspect for unlawful possession of illicit cigarettes on 16 November.

During their routine crime prevention duties, Saps Emergency Services spotted a suspicious-looking car driving along the N1 highway at 11 pm.

READ ALSO: Police seize R1,6 million of illicit cigarettes

Upon searching the white Toyota Camry, they found about 700 boxes of illicit cigarettes with an estimated street value of R120 000. A suspect was apprehended and charged with unlawful possession of illicit cigarettes.

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