Thursday 4 March 2021 – THE four suspects bust with fake Covid-19 vaccines in Gauteng must face the harshest jail terms, according to Tax Justice SA (TJSA).
“Criminals exploiting the pandemic are endangering the lives of all South Africans,” says TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee. “These crooks should spend their own lives behind bars for such cynical and deadly racketeering.
“Authorities and the public should be on their guard against organised criminal networks in illicit trade who have targeted the vaccine rollout as yet another way to loot the nation.”
Interpol say about 400 ampoules — equivalent to about 2‚400 doses — containing fake vaccine were found at a warehouse in Germiston. Officers, who also recovered a large quantity of 3M facemasks, arrested three Chinese nationals and a Zambian.
“Interpol believe this could be only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Covid-19 vaccine-related crime,” says Abramjee.
“The pandemic and lockdown have created huge opportunities for criminals and they’ve been quick to cash in.
“Lockdown prohibitions have led to an explosion in the illicit trade of alcohol and tobacco and criminal syndicates are always looking for ways to expand their portfolios.
“A few weeks ago, unregistered medicines worth R126 million were seized at OR Tambo airport, indicating the immense sums involved.
“As well as the obvious threat to life, illicit trade is also starving the fiscus of billions of rands that are desperately needed to fight the virus and rebuild the economy.
“Authorities must wake up fast to the fact that illicit trade is an epidemic that must be treated with the strongest medicine.”