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Press Release

‘Window-dressing’ won’t stop industrial-scale smugglers looting SA

Friday 6 October 2023 – TAX Justice South Africa (TJSA) has welcomed Government’s promises of tighter policing at our porous borders but warns that real action is needed to stem the tide of contraband that continues to flood into our country and rob us of billions of rand in vital revenue every year.


President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Border Management Authority (BMA) in Limpopo on Thursday with assurances that it would help to enforce controls against illegal immigration, smuggling and other illicit trade.


But TJSA founder Yusuf Abramjee warned: “While this initiative may be a step in the right direction in controlling our borders, it will be worthless if the BMA is mere window dressing.


“Smuggling is an existential threat to South Africa, which is being robbed of R250 million daily via illicit trade. Corruption and weak enforcement are worsening this menace.


“A concerted crackdown is needed to root out rogue officials, follow the money and arrest the kingpins who are looting our nation.”


Abramjee cited Al Jazeera’s exposé of the Gold Leaf Mafia as evidence that transnational organised crime groups are using illicit trade to rob the fiscus and amass huge wealth in offshore havens.


“The Gold Leaf Mafia has flooded Mzansi with tax-evading cigarettes and corrupted our banks to siphon billions of rand in dirty money out of the country. Yet six months after the Al Jazeera documentary, the kingpins are still in business,” said Abramjee. “The new tobacco bill threatens to hand even more custom to these sophisticated networks operating outside the law.


“We need meaningful action to tackle this industrial-scale organised crime. Simply arresting truck drivers and desperate smugglers at the Beitbridge border isn’t going to win this war.


“The new border authority must work with SARS and the NPA to nail the smuggling kingpins, bring them to justice and retrieve the hundreds of billions of rand that have been stolen from the people of South Africa.”