Skip to main content
Press Release

Tobacco ban defeat means it’s Government’s duty to undo the damage

Tuesday,14 June, 2022 – Today’s Supreme Court of Appeal ruling confirms that the lockdown tobacco ban was both illegal and unnecessary and imposes on Government a duty to urgently undo the ruinous damage it inflicted, according to Tax Justice SA (TJSA).

“The five-month sales ban handed control of South Africa’s tobacco trade to criminals who were making R100 million a day selling illegal cigarettes to hard-up smokers,” says TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee.

“The criminal manufacturers’ illegal supply networks became entrenched and they have been stealing billions of rand more in unpaid taxes ever since.

“Illicit cigarettes are now on sale in up to three-quarters of stores in some provinces, according to repeated investigations by market researcher Ipsos.

“It is the Government’s duty to collect those taxes on behalf of the South African people. They must fulfil that duty by following the money, catching the kingpins running this illicit trade and locking them up.”

TJSA today launched its Fightback Charter 2022 calling on Government to impose emergency sanctions against transnational organised crime groups looting South Africa of R100 billion a year via illegal trade and other illicit financial flows.

“Illicit cigarette barons are among the sophisticated criminal networks siphoning vital funds out of our country,” says Abramjee.

“The authorities know who they are and how much devastation they are causing. Today’s court ruling highlights the mistakes responsible for their rise and why the Government has a duty to correct those mistakes by defeating enemies crippling our nation.”