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Press Release

Seizure of R10m smuggled tobacco shows it’s business as usual for illicit trade

Thursday 27 October, 2022 – A MASSIVE bust of smuggled tobacco being offloaded on the East Rand is proof that criminals are still trying to operate illegal cigarette factories despite recent crackdowns by the South African Revenue Service (SARS), Tax Justice SA (TJSA) warns today.

SARS Enforcement Teams, backed up by police, seized more than R10 million worth of raw tobacco that had been transported from Zimbabwe as it was delivered to an unregistered warehouse in Benoni on Tuesday.

TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee said: “This very welcome operation by SARS is yet more proof that it’s business as usual for the illicit cigarette barons who are looting our nation of billions.

“Although SARS has scored recent successes, like the freezing of assets belonging to Zimbabwe-based tobacco giant Gold Leaf, it’s clear that criminals are still flooding our country with contraband and this industrial-scale theft continues.

“The sophisticated illicit networks which became entrenched during the lockdown tobacco sales ban will take years to dismantle.

“There must be no let-up until the masterminds are arrested and locked up and the billions they have stolen from the South African people have been recovered.”

SARS said two men had been arrested following the bust and investigations were continuing.

“Authorities must follow the money and catch the kingpins,” said Abramjee. “These transnational organised crime groups are a threat to the safety and prosperity of all South Africans. We need to see the masterminds wearing orange overalls.”