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Press Release

FITA investigation into cigarette giant Gold Leaf welcomed

Monday 14 September 2020 – TAX Justice SA (TJSA) welcomes an investigation by the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) into sales tactics by its member Gold Leaf Tobacco Corporation (GLTC).

TJSA revealed on Sunday that tobacco giant GLTC is selling cigarettes through the internet to private customers in DIRECT DEFIANCE of the Tobacco Control Act.

TJSA also called on FITA to establish whether GLTC was paying all due taxes on its suspiciously-priced products, which now dominate the South African market.

TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee says today: “We welcome FITA’s promise to investigate allegations of illicit sales by its biggest member. We hope that investigation is as exhaustive as the 4,000-word press release announcing it.

“TJSA’s own investigations show that the Zimbabwean-owned and controlled GLTC is defying the law by claiming its online customers are ‘retail trade partners’.

“This is a sham that simply serves to cover up illegality. You need to provide more information to buy a SIM card than you do to become a so-called GLTC ‘retail trade partner’.

“We await with interest the results of the FITA investigation.”

TJSA registered as a ‘retail trade partner’ using bogus details that were never verified. GLTC then delivered a single carton of cigarettes to a residential address with no questions asked.

TJSA investigations revealed that:

  • GLTC makes no checks to verify the identity of their ‘retail trade partners’ or to establish that they are above the LEGAL AGE of 18.
  • Online customers can buy single cartons for as little as R22.50 per pack INCLUDING NATIONWIDE DELIVERY, suggesting that GLTC is not paying DUE TAXES of R20.35 per pack.

Brands made by GLTC, including Voyager, RG and Sharp, accounted for more than a quarter of all cigarettes bought on the black market during the 144-day lockdown sales ban.

The Zimbabwean-owned and controlled company is now accepting orders from private individuals on its online sales site, Gold Leaf Retail Trade Partners (, in defiance of the Tobacco Control Act, which “prohibits the sale, or offer of sale, of tobacco products through the internet”.

“Gold Leaf have dominated the market since the lockdown ban on legal sales,” says Abramjee. “It is the duty of FITA and chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni to investigate any wrongdoing by its most significant member.”