Monday, 1 June 2020

TWO ZIMBABWEAN CIGARETTES SMUGGLERS REMANDED IN CUSTODY IN SA


TWO Zimbabweans who were last week arrested with three other people for allegedly smuggling cigarettes from Zimbabwe to South Africa have been further remanded in custody to Friday for formal bail application.

The suspects were arrested in two separate incidents following a high-speed chase with the police near Polokwane in Limpopo province.

Nomusa Mguni (34) and Walter Ndlovu (30) were arrested in Sebayeng area on May 23 for illegal possession of alcohol and suspected illicit cigarettes.

Limpopo police spokesperson, Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said in a statement that the duo appeared before a Mankweng magistrate on Friday afternoon. 

“The woman who was also travelling with a minor was arrested in the company of a 30-year-old man driving towards Gauteng province. They were carrying an assortment of illicit cigarettes and alcohol when they sped off from a roadblock along the N1 highway before they were cornered by traffic police and the crime prevention police officers.”

“The suspects apparently sped towards a gravel road that connects the N1 road and R81 from Polokwane. The officers pursuing the said vehicle, then called for a backup from the police at Sebayeng and this led to the suspects being cornered at the Solomondale intersection next to the filling station. The vehicle was then searched and the illicit cigarettes and alcohol were found hidden inside and the two suspects were immediately apprehended,” he said.

Brigadier Mojapelo said three locals; Alemayenu Leta (42), Pieter Venter (30) and Amandul Biru (33) were arrested on the same day, May 23, on similar charges and have since appeared at the Modimolle magistrate court.

He said the trio was transporting 1 000 cartons of illicit cigarettes in a pickup truck when they sped off from a roadblock along the N1 but were later cornered leading to their arrest. They will appear in court on June 4 for formal bail application, he said. 

Demand for Zimbabwean tobacco and related products in other countries has seen the establishment of well-orchestrated syndicates who facilitate the illegal trade and smuggling of the golden leaf into those countries.

South Africa has become one of the major destinations where mostly cigarettes are smuggled through Beitbridge border post or illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River.

Almost 30 percent of the cigarettes on the South African market are from Zimbabwe.

It is also difficult for Zimbabweans to export cigarettes to South Africa because of the high excise duty in that country.

Most of the smuggled brands from Zimbabwe to the neighbouring country include; Pacific, Remmington Gold, Kingsgate, Madison, Mega, Dullahs, Branson and Servilles.

Statistics from the South African Revenue Services (SARS) show that a total 82 689 043kg of tobacco were imported from Zimbabwe between January 2010 until March 2015.
These include imports of cigars, cheroots, cigarillos and cigarettes of tobacco or of tobacco substitutes.

Chronicle is reliably informed that in terms of SARS’s schedule 1 part 2 / section a (specific excise duties on locally manufactured or on imported goods of the same class or kind), various rates of duty are specified, for instance cigarettes imported from Zimbabwe at a rate of R6.21 per 10 cigarettes.

Further, smoking tobacco, whether or not containing tobacco substitutes in any proportions, pipe tobacco in immediate packings of a content of less than 5 kg is charged at R155.54/kg net, with others including pipe tobacco charged at R155.54/kg net and cigarette tobacco R278.82/kg. Chronicle

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