News / South Africa / Crime

2 minute read
12 May 2020
10:09 am

Illicit cigarettes trade booms as KZN police net cigarettes worth millions


Non-profit organisation Tax Justice South Africa, which vehemently opposed the prohibition, has called for a national tip-off line to report illicit cigarettes.

Picture for illustration. Some of the illicit cigarettes police have seized. Photo: supplied.

Since the prohibition of cigarettes, there have been at least seven reported police raids on illicit cigarettes in Kwazulu-Natal alone, totalling approximately R5.3 million, Berea Mail reports.

This has added fuel to commentators who have been arguing against the prohibition, warning that it will spur the black market trade.

Nomusa Dube-Ncube, MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental remarked that KZN is particularly vulnerable to international crime syndicates due to its busy ports.

“While we push for economic integration through free trade, it is unfortunate that the international criminal networks are also planning to sustain their illegal businesses which are crippling our economy,” she said.

Since tobacco products are taxed at a very high rate, the sale of illicit cigarettes results in significant loss to tax revenue.

Talking before parliament, Edward Kieswetter, South African Revenue Services Commissioner said they had under-recovered R300 million in tax revenue from just the month of April.

Tax Justice South Africa, a non-profit organisation vehemently opposed to the prohibition, has called for a national tip-off line to report illicit cigarettes.

“And when law officers seize illicit goods they should have the power and equipment to destroy them as quickly as possible to prevent them flowing back into the market,” it said in a statement.

In the meantime, KZN Police Commissioner Luitenant General Khombinkosi Jula has praised the various police clusters on their successful raids carried out thus far.

These include:

17 April – Hluhluwe Game reserve.Three bakkies found with 500 packets of illicit cigarettes. Value R900,000.

18 April – Bartlett Road, Sarnia, Pinetown. Cigarettes and alcohol were confiscated at a bottle store, operating illegally. Value R250,000.

19 April – During a raid, three foreign nationals were arrested in a factory, Walter Reid Road, Tongaat with 100 cartons of cigarettes.

24 April – During a raid across the Durban CBD, EDTEA, found fake goods, condoms and cigarettes worth R100,000.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.