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Press Release

Criminals threatening lives in pursuit of lockdown profits

Thursday 7 May 2020 – Tax Justice South Africa (TJSA) is calling on citizens and law enforcers to be on their guard against criminals dealing in fake health products during the coronavirus lockdown.

TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee says: “Criminals in illegal trade are never slow to exploit an opportunity. The Covid-19 crisis has created a huge demand for personal protective equipment and a corresponding shortage of supply.

“Cynical crooks have already moved in to fill the gap and Business Against Crime SA and Proudly SA have reported an increase in the sale of counterfeit or defective masks, sanitisers, thermometers and antiviral medicines.

“Often these illicit products are worse than useless and can even put lives in danger. Illegal traders are getting rich by peddling potentially lethal goods and must be brought to justice.”

South African Revenue Service Commissioner Ed Kieswetter told Parliament on Tuesday that lockdown regulations have stoked a big increase in the illegal trade of alcohol, cigarettes, textiles and other illicit products.

“Commissioner Kieswetter is rightly mindful of the economic cost of the restrictions Government has put in place to protect the South African people. He also acknowledged how lockdown restrictions are driving customers to the black market, which is unregulated, unlicensed and often dangerously unhealthy.

“For instance, police are currently investigating the death of a Northern Cape couple who died after apparently drinking home-brewed beer. It is a tragedy we may witness more regularly as people get more desperate.

“Criminals have no regard for the effect of the illicit alcohol, fake medicines and illegal cigarettes they are pushing. TJSA urges  law enforcers to step up the fight against illegal trade now when it is at its most lucrative.”

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