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Press Release

‘Cop escort’ for R12m cigarette smugglers

Monday January 30 2023 – COPS caught allegedly escorting a huge shipment of illicit cigarettes on Monday prove that authorities have lost control and some police are colluding with organised crime networks flooding South Africa’s shops with tax-evading tobacco, Tax Justice SA (TJSA) warns today.

Reports say an LP gas tanker and another truck filled with HALF A MILLION packs of cigarettes –  with a tax value alone of almost R12 million – were stopped in Marble Hall, Limpopo.

A marked police bakkie from Silverton and a white VW Golf GTi apparently belonging to the Hawks were allegedly escorting the shipments. Witnesses say the cops abandoned the vehicles and fled.

TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee says: “Cops’ alleged involvement in this industrial-scale smuggling proves once and for all that criminals in the illicit tobacco trade are brazenly operating outside the law with apparent impunity, or worse.

“We urgently need a national inquiry into South Africa’s cigarette industry and the enforcement agencies meant to control it.

“Corrupt cops have been repeatedly implicated in the illicit tobacco trade that is robbing Mzansi of R20 billion a year.

“This latest seized shipment yet again features Remington Gold cigarettes, a brand made in Zimbabwe by Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation. SARS obtained a court order in August allowing them to freeze Gold Leaf assets, yet still their brands are being openly sold at prices that show the due taxes are not being paid.

“The heads of SARS and the police must be called to account and ordered to explain why they’re failing to tackle this menace – and why some of their officers are apparently complicit in it.”

TJSA has the identity of the Hawks member allegedly involved and is writing to the Police Minister and National Commissioner calling for an urgent and immediate probe.