On Thursday, police intercepted a vehicle suspected of transporting illegal cigarettes in the Waterberg district.

Police in Limpopo have apprehended two suspects in possession of contraband cigarettes valued at R300 000, signaling a robust crackdown on illegal trade activities in the region.

The operation was carried out on Thursday, 15 February in the Waterberg District.

According to reports, in a meticulously planned manoeuvre in Mookgophong, authorities – in collaboration with the private security sector – intercepted a vehicle suspected of transporting illegal cigarettes.

Cigarettes intended for local distribution

Police spokesperson Colonel Malesela Ledwaba said the ensuing search led to the arrest of two individuals, aged 23 and 28, who were found with a significant quantity of illicit cigarettes intended for distribution within local communities.

ALSO READ: Illicit cigarettes worth R200 000 seized in Limpopo

“Initial estimates value the seized contraband at around R299 000,” Ledwaba said.

Bela-Beka drug arrest

Simultaneously, in Bela-Bela, Ledwaba said that police detained four male suspects implicated in drug dealing.

“Three of the suspects were caught with 34 sachets of Nyaope drugs, while another was apprehended with 260 sachets of Nyaope, alongside an undisclosed amount of money believed to be derived from illicit drug sales,” he confirmed.

Zero tolerance

Lauding the arrests, Limpopo Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe emphasised a zero-tolerance approach towards illegal trade activities.

“These arrests send a clear message that the illegal cigarette and drug trade will not be tolerated,” remarked Hadebe.

ALSO READ: Court ruling should ‘smoke out illicit cigarette kingpins’ – Abramjee

The apprehended suspects are slated to appear before their respective magistrate’s courts as legal proceedings unfold.

Around 54% of cigarettes sold in South Africa are illegal, resulting in a loss of sin tax revenue for the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

Illicit cigarettes a ‘significant challenge in SA’

 According to international tobacco company Philip Morris, that the escalating issue of cigarette smuggling has become a significant challenge in South Africa.

Illicit cigarettes, the company says, is inexpensive and easily accessible, and therefore represent a profitable revenue stream for criminal syndicates nationwide, resulting in the loss of billions of rand in tax revenue for the government each year.

“Organised crime networks have the ability to profit from changing environments, and this is evident from the current situation in South Africa. Criminals are bidding to keep hold of new customers gained during lockdown, despite the ban being lifted,” the company said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *