Police in Madikwe, acting on a tip-off, arrested a 43-year-old suspect on Saturday, 31 August 2019 in Moubana village outside Madikwe for possession of illicit cigarettes.
It is alleged that the police responded quickly after receiving the tip-off about two vehicles, a charcoal BMW and Red Golf that were escorting a truck which was suspected to have been hijacked. The police allegedly spotted the truck on the gravel road leading to Moubana and summoned back-up after realising that the truck was escorted by four vehicles. It is alleged that upon recognising the presence of the police, escorting vehicles fled the scene and left the truck behind. Consequently, the truck was stopped. Although five male occupants managed to run and fled into the bushes, the driver of the truck was arrested.
Upon conducting a search, the police discovered boxes of illicit cigarettes with estimated value of R1 166 000-00. The driver was charged for being in possession of illicit cigarettes (Export Control Act under the Customs and Excise Act 91 of 1964). He is expected to appear in court soon.
The Acting Provincial Commissioner of North West, Major General Ryno Naidoo, congratulated the police for their swift reaction that led to the massive recovery. He said that the success, which is in accordance with the Economic Stimulus Package Operation, will send a clear message that illicit activities will not be tolerated. He thanked members of the community for their cooperation in reporting the incident, which resulted in the arrest.
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) has commended North West police for arresting a truck driver for allegedly importing illicit cigarettes.
Police officers pounced on a truck being escorted by private cars on a gravel road outside Madikwe at the weekend, and arrested the driver for allegedly importing more than R11million worth of illicit cigarettes.
“We commend the continued efforts of both the South African Revenue Service (Sars) and the police in ensuring that compliance risks in the tobacco industry along the value chain are kept at a minimum.
“The detention of a truck containing 1,166 cases of cigarettes worth more than R11m is a step in the right direction, but merely the tip of the iceberg in eliminating the scourge of illicit cigarettes, which affects our members as businesses operating in South Africa,” said Fita chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni.
He said the organisation was pleased action was being taken against those who trade in illicit cigarettes.
“We have communicated this ad nauseam to the relevant authorities, and are pleased something is now being done about this issue. We, however, wish to point out that the lack of visibility of Sars customs officials on the ground has led to a substantial growth in the influx of smuggled tobacco products into South Africa via, inter alia, our porous borders,” Mnguni said.
He said the organisation has requested the presence of tax officials and police “in the market, as we have no doubt they will have no difficulty picking up many of these products, which retail for next to nothing”.