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Press Release

Cops must follow the money and catch illicit trade kingpins

Monday 14 August 2023 – A POLICE crackdown on sellers of illicit goods in Johannesburg CBD should be just the first step in an all-out offensive against crimelords who are looting South Africa of desperately needed revenue, Tax Justice SA (TJSA) says today.


“Organised crime kingpins have captured key sectors of our economy,” says TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee. “They’re stealing more than R100 billion annually from the state purse by distributing smuggled, counterfeit and other tax-evading goods.


“Police may have cleared a few small-scale vendors from our streets at the weekend, but now they need to follow the money and catch the kingpins who operate massive networks nationwide, manufacturing and pushing out illicit goods with seeming impunity.


“Every day that authorities fail to act against these lords of organised crime, honest, hard-working South Africans are being deprived of the essential services which their stolen taxes are meant to buy.”


Abramjee says the R100 billion stolen from South Africa every year could pay for:


  • A basic income grant for half the population


  • A free house for 5 million desperate citizens


  • Solar systems that would take 100 small towns annually off the Eskom grid for ever


“Instead, transnational organised crime gangs are using their ill-gotten wealth to build lives of luxury for themselves.


“The illicit cigarette trade, for example, has sky-rocketed since the lockdown sales ban and now robs Mzansi over R20 billion a year. That huge fiscal hole is set to get even bigger if MPs pass the new tobacco control bill which seems designed to boost business for tax cheats.


“South Africans are fed up with living in a country where crime is allowed to pay. Instead of passing new laws that will turn smokers into criminals, our leaders should be tackling the gangsters who are crippling our country, endangering lives and threatening our future prosperity.


“Instead of giving us PR stunts, we need our police to follow the money, catch the kingpins and lock them up. ”